Government to address siltation in Tshongogwe Dam Tshongogwe Dam in Jotsholo

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Reporter

GOVERNMENT is working towards addressing siltation in Tshongogwe Dam in Jotsholo, Lupane District in Matabeleland North, which has resulted in farmers at a local irrigation scheme scaling down operations. 

Siltation occurs as a result of human activities that lead to fine soil leaching into nearby rivers. This results in an unnaturally large accumulation of silt that stays in that particular area of that river. Rainstorms may also transport these soils into other water sources.

A team of engineers from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is set to be deployed to Tshongogwe to look into the issue.

Due to siltation, the dam from where Tshongogwe Irrigation Scheme farmers draw their water, has dried up, creating viability challenges for them.

The 50 plotholders at the solar-powered drip irrigation scheme, have been forced to reduce their hectarage from 18 to two hectares.

Farmers were assisted by the Government in conjunction with a consortium of non-governmental organisations under the name, Sizimisele, which invested US$29 000 to help improve smallholder farmers’ productive capacity.

Sizimisele is a consortium of 11 organisations funded through the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), which is co-managed by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and Zimbabwean Government. 

The ZRBF is visible in many districts in the country with each consortium given three or four districts to work in. Other projects include solarising and rehabilitating boreholes and dams

Farmers at Tshongogwe Irrigation Scheme was put 1,8 hectares under butternut and 0,5 hectares of cabbages.

They supply local markets with the produce and also deliver grain and wheat to the Grain Marketing Board, providing members of the scheme with much-needed income. 

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira, who is responsible for Agricultural Colleges, Water Resources, and Irrigation Development, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, said a team from his ministry will soon be deployed to the area to gather information on the causes for the dam to dry up.

“We will be sending a team of engineers to go to the site and establish why there is such heavy siltation at Tshongogwe,” he said.

Villagers who spoke to Chronicle attributed the siltation of the dam to unsupervised farming methods. The dam, which has water storage capacity of 10 mega litres, was constructed in 1966. 

Tshongogwe Irrigation scheme Dam supply

Tshongogwe Irrigation Scheme manager, Mr Michael Ngwenya said the future of the farming project hinged on addressing water supply.

“Our wish is to scoop the mud so that when the rains come, the dam can be able to hold water. This irrigation scheme has been a source of livelihood for the community and therefore its collapse will naturally result in loss of income,” he said.

“As farmers, we have an obligation to contribute to the nation in terms of food security in line with the President’s vision of a prosperous upper middle-income economy by 2030,” said Mr Ngwenya. 

Under National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the country has set out a comprehensive roadmap anchored on revitalising the agriculture sector for the period running up to the year 2030 in which Zimbabwe expects to realise an upper middle-income status.

The interventions are meant to help increase the country’s food self-sufficiency from the current 45 percent to 100 percent, thereby reduce reliance on imports as Government seeks to make Zimbabwe the breadbasket for Africa again.

Zimbabwe was positioned to beat the US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 following the launch of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year.

The agrarian transformation plan of action was drawn from the Agriculture Recovery and Livestock Growth plans, which outlines specific key projects that include the provision of inputs to both vulnerable and smallholder farmers, fostering market links, climate-proofing all agriculture support programmes, among others.

Government recently launched Umfolo/Makandiwa soil and water conservation blitz which encourages farmers to have contour ridges on both arable and non-arable land to minimise soil degradation and protect huge water borders from drying up through siltation.

The soil and water conservation blitz, is part of Government’s Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy.  — @skhumoyo2000

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