Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
SEVERAL farmers in Beitbridge District have embraced drip irrigation to minimise the effects of water shortages and boost horticulture projects.
Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.
Under this type of irrigation water is placed directly into the root zone of plant and minimises evaporation.
Business Chronicle understands that in previous years, most farmers were using canals, sprinklers, or flood irrigation to water crops and many have raised a red flag over the depleting water sources for irrigation and livestock.
Mr Knowledge Sibanda of Makakavhule village (Ward 6), said he drew water through sand abstraction from Umzingwane River to irrigate his eight-hectare plot.
The plot has tomatoes, onions, green pepper and cabbages.
“Drip irrigation uses very little water but we are getting very good results. Conserving water is very important considering that we are in the midst of a devastating drought,” he said.
Mr Sibanda said the horticulture projects had reduced imports of vegetables to Beitbridge from other towns or South Africa.
He said he was working on expanding the project to 12ha to produce more for the local market especially schools.
Mr Energy Muzamani of Goda area (Ward 6), said he was using water from a borehole to water his vegetables.
He has been growing tomatoes, green pepper and cabbages on his three-hectare plot since 2016 with the aid of drip irrigation.
“This horticulture project is doing well though we have challenges with irrigation water and I am looking for resources or a partner to drill two boreholes.
“We have good soils but we need to use as little water as possible hence the use of drip irrigation,” he said adding that he was working on expanding his garden to seven hectares.
Ms Raina Hlongwane of Goda area said the introduction of drip irrigation had helped women to grow crops under irrigation but using less water.
“We are able raise at least R3000 daily from selling our produce,” she said.
A farm manager at the 60-ha Royal Cooper Estate, Mr Samuel Karonga said using drip irrigation helps control weeds.
“It also helps control weeds because we only water the places where we have plants. In essence, we have to conserve the little water available considering that we are in an area where dryland farming is a challenge due to our climatic conditions,” he said.
According to agriculture experts, Beitbridge requires an average of 400mm of rain water for a successful farming season but most areas received less than 80mm last cropping season.