Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
Dongaronga irrigation scheme in Musengezi, resuscitated by President Mnangagwa, while he was the Vice President in 2016 during the launch of national de-siltation programme, is targeting to quadruple the area under wheat from 20 hectares to 80 hectares next winter.
The 20 hectares planted under wheat this year is split between Rudaviro and Dzingainhamo co-operatives, who each contributed half of the hectarage.
The scheme had a helping hand from the District Development Fund, which has provided free tillage and planting for the 20ha as well as providing irrigation equipment and a perimeter fence around the area under production.
This has enabled the scheme to contribute to Chegutu district’s wheat planting this season of 1 900ha.
The overall chairperson of the cooperatives, Mr Clevermore Kent, said they were now considering putting the total irrigable land on the scheme under wheat next year.
“We have a total hectarage of between 90 to 100 hectares that are irrigable but, unavailability of resources, including machines, has been hindered us from fully using the land. As an irrigation scheme, we are going to use our dam, which was de-silted in 2016 under the programme launched by President Mnangagwa when he was still the Vice President,” he said.
“During the launch, President Mnangagwa reiterated the need to fully use all the water bodies and arable land to improve production so that the nation is food secure.”
He however implored the Government to avail combine harvesters to reduce losses during harvesting.
In her remarks, Mashonaland West State Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka applauded the DDF for rising to the occasion by ensuring that the nation is made food secure. “The support rendered to the irrigation scheme is commendable. It came at an opportune time as the nation targeted to improve its wheat production. Although the contribution by Dongaronga scheme may seem minimal, it is of great importance as it is going to cut our import bill,” she said.
“However, the scheme should ensure that the money it is going to earn is put to good use, and that includes the purchase of machinery for farming purposes.”
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka also underscored the need for the scheme to strive to be self-reliant in the near future.
“This irrigation scheme has to be a model for other farmers across the province, showing that unity and synergies play a pivotal role in farming. Hence other communities should emulate the move.”
Contracted farmers must desist from side marketing as the nation moves to improve food security.
She also applauded the DDF for rehabilitating roads to improve movement of farmers and people in general.
DDF provincial coordinator Mr Erikana Chikande said the DDF was targeting 1 000km in the province for grading to motor vehicle standard with half now done. “The idea of grading the roads is to improve trafficability for A1 and A2 farmers and movement of vehicles delivering inputs and food aid. We have also managed to work on the Muche Bridge,” he said.
His units, however, faced old equipment and unavailability of fuel as the major challenges in developing districts.