Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
PRACTICAL Action has allocated $2,3 million towards installing solar energy at three underutilised irrigation schemes with a total capacity of 70 hectares in Gwanda District.
Speaking at an inception meeting in Gwanda on Friday Practical Action project manager, Mrs Melody Makumbe said the project was being funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
She said they will also establish 15 one-hectare solar powered gardens in three wards as part of efforts to enhance agricultural productivity in rural areas.
“As Practical Action we were awarded a grant by Sida to implement a three year project titled ‘Enhanced agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change through solar powered irrigation’. Under the programme we are targeting to install solar energy to three irrigation schemes in three different wards.
“So far we have identified Silikwe Irrigation in Datata Ward and Sukwi Irrigation Scheme in Buvuma Ward. We are yet to identify the third irrigation scheme but in total we are targeting coverage of 70 hectares.
“We will also be establishing 15 one-hectare gardens,” she said.
Mrs Makumbe said the project was running from October 1 this year to September 30, 2020.
She said 919 households were expected to benefit from this project while villagers in neighbouring wards will also benefit indirectly.
Mrs Makumbe said beneficiaries under this project were expected to produce commercially.
“The objective of this project is to improve livelihood opportunities for small holder farmers in rural areas through access to green solar energy for irrigation.
“We conducted background checks and discovered that there were irrigation schemes within the district that were not performing well.
“These irrigations are powered by diesel engines and farmers were struggling to buy the diesel.”