Bongani Ndlovu in Gwanda
MATABELELAND South province yesterday launched the Masholomoshe Irrigation Scheme with hundreds of families set to benefit.
The national blitz was launched in Mashonaland West province last week.
In Matabeleland South, the programme will spread to all districts in the province and is being spearheaded by the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation, which has been resourced with four tractors each equipped with disc plough.
The Soil and Water Conservation Blitz will primarily involve the provincial pegging and construction of mechanical contours on 1 500 hectares of both arable and non-arable land.
This will help reduce river and dam siltation and soil erosion, boosting food productivity in the long run.
At Masholomoshe Irrigation Scheme, which has 132 members, the programme was welcomed.
A tractor was donated to the scheme.
Ms Modi Sibanda of Ward 1 in Masholomoshe, said they planted maize and sugar beans this past farming season and they are happy with the harvest and have since planted wheat that they expect to harvest in October.
She said through the irrigation scheme, they were going to start supplying a major supermarket in Gwanda with fresh produce.
“We have planted vegetables such as chomolia, tomatoes, beetroot, onions, lettuce and cabbages.
We now have a place where we can sell our produce when it is ripe and that is OK Supermarket and we have an agreement.
The wheat will be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board depot so that we also contribute to feeding the nation.
In turn we shall be paid so that we are able to send our children to school,” said Ms Sibanda.
“This tractor will also help some of us grandmothers who aren’t young as we were before.
We can’t till the land and this tractor will help us do so and also prevent soil erosion and also the loss of water when the rains do come.”
Mrs Egnator Ncube from the same irrigation scheme said she feels empowered.
“This programme will help us and it is a way to empower us as we shall be able to sell the fresh farm produce to the big super markets.
At the same time that money will help us plant and harvest the wheat at the irrigation scheme,” said Mrs Ncube.
Mr Patros Moyo the chairman of Masholomoshe Irrigation Scheme said the scheme started in 1968 and has been standing firm ever since.
He thanked Government for donating a tractor to the scheme and asked for more support.
“The irrigation scheme has a lot of hardworking people.
I believe with continued support from Government and relevant departments and local leadership they will be able to fulfil their potential as a people.
We have been giving our harvests to the GMB to help feed the nation,” said Mr Moyo.
“The tractor will prevent soil erosion and also help in the conservation of water in the irrigation scheme.
If we get two more tractors it will make our job easier in working the land in this irrigation scheme.
We would like to thank the Government for supporting this irrigation scheme.”
Acting director Division of Soil Conservation and Post-Harvest Technologies, Engineer Herbert Gutu said the blitz was targeting all farmers around the country and they must have conservation structures to reduce the speed of the flow of water and capture it.
“Erosion is a result of flowing water and if it flows fast, it can have power to erode the soil and then silt our rivers and dams.
There are dead level contours which capture water on a level base and the graded contours which will be at a gradient and drain water to a particular place such as a water way,” said Mr Gutu.
“In this region because it is dry, we want to capture as much water as possible so that it infiltrates into the ground, and at the same time reducing surface flow which is causing serious land degradation.
So, we want immediate impact on the ground and this entails organising people and training them.”
Mr Gutu said the programme must benefit all people from the area to benefit.
The guest of honour at the event was Matabeleland South Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednico Ncube,
He was represented by Matabeleland South Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Latiso Dlamini-Maseko.
Minister Ncube said the Soil and Water Conservation Blitz Programme was a step towards attaining Vision 2030 to improve agriculture production and productivity, thereby ensuring household food security.
“The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy seeks to achieve a US$8,5 billion agriculture economy by 2025.
This strategy is a composite plan of action drawn from the agricultural recovery plan, Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan and Livestock growth Plan.
These strategies enhance the attainment of vision 2030 which is anchored on National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1),” said Minister Ncube.
He said soil and water were the major components in achieving food security objectives and the blitz was key in preserving the two components.
“The objective of this blitz programme is to protect the soil from erosion and to maintain its productive capacity.
We need to conserve our soil and put in place good water conservation practices through harnessing soil and water conservation technologies.
“The Soil and Water Conservation Blitz Programme is targeting the whole country, leaving no one behind and no land unprotected,” said Minister Ncube.