Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
VILLAGERS participating in the Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme are set to be paid a dividend of nearly US$1 000 and $600 000 each after delivering 900 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board.
This is the second time the scheme members are being paid a dividend as they received $250 000 each in December after they harvested a wheat crop.
Also, the villagers are paid monthly salaries of $25 000 which assists with their upkeep.
The scheme has 90 household members from Mpofu Village as part of Government’s rural industrialisation programme.
Government chose the Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme model to spearhead the rural industrialisation programme and is working towards replicating the model countrywide.
Under the model, community members provide labour at irrigation schemes while the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) provides technical expertise.
At the end of the cropping season, farmers are paid dividends for the crop upon its delivery to the GMB.
So successful is the Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme that irrigation schemes from Matabeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland yesterday visited on a learning visit.
The scheme currently has a thriving wheat crop.
During the tour, the visitors were told of how the Mpofu community in Lupane is being modernised due to the successful farming venture where locals are placed at the centre stage of development.
The scheme members are moving from pole and mud houses to building modern homes while others are now able to send children to boarding schools and buying livestock, thanks to the success of the scheme.
Visitors to Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme marveled at how ARDA and the local community had turned sandy soils into a productive venture.
Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme chairman Mr Gerald Khumalo told participants that farmers would get their payouts next week.
“Our lives continue to be transformed, we were not productive in our homes before we started at this irrigation. We could stay for seven to eight months without getting any money.
But now every month we are getting paid and at the end of the cropping season we get dividends.
Last year we received $250 000 which was equivalent to US$1 000 at that time.
We have delivered maize to GMB and we got a good yield and we are expecting to get $600 000 and US$933.
What has delayed us to access the funds is that we were still fixing the nostro accounts but after next week’s holiday we will get paid our monies,” said Mr Khumalo.
He said having farmers from various provinces coming to Lupane to learn how they were conducting their business, was a confidence booster.
Mr Khumalo said while Lupane with its sandy soils is not expected to produce much, the adoption of modern farming methods has changed the narrative.
ARDA chief executive officer Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme is proving that there is no community that cannot contribute to the development of the country.
He said from the production at the irrigation scheme, value addition processing factories will soon be established as part of the rural industrialisation drive.
“The Kalahari sands are basically desert sands with absolutely no nutrition.
They leach but we are changing the narrative.
We said let’s apply technology to try and manipulate the soils so that we achieve what we need to achieve in terms of productivity.
This worked out and this is the third crop that we have established since last year.
This is the second winter and we recently harvested maize where we did very well,” said Mr Mhiko.
He said Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme is also creating farmers who understand farming as a business.
“From the recently harvested maize crop, I’m pleased to say the GMB has paid both the nostro component and the ZW component. The ZW$ per farmer they are going to get about $600 000 and the US component they have received US$84 000 so that translates to US$933 per household,” he said.
“So it is magnificent, it is amazing and the impact is pleasing. We believe that the rural transformation for this community is becoming a reality.
This money that I’m talking about is the net dividend that they achieved.
We do not have any US$ costs but they are going to get their dividends as is and on the ZW$ that is where we deducted all the overheads that they incurred during the course of the season and it excludes the wages and after removing all the costs we are going to pay them $600 000 per household.”
The Smaller Holder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SHIRP) organised the visit to Bubi-Lupane Irrigation scheme by irrigation schemes from other provinces.
SHIRP national coordinator Mr Audric Mukorera said the organisational skills of Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme has contributed to their success.
“It doesn’t matter that these are Kalahari sands, but they are actually learning how to make use of an organised business approach to make a better living out of the infrastructure that Government is giving them,” said Mr Mukorera.
He said most irrigation schemes were poorly managed, hence their failure.
“One of the major causes of these breakdowns and lack of rehabilitation is the human side, the organisational skills side, the personnel, so that is what we are trying to address through this exchange visit.
We want all these farmers to come and learn how they can improve their self-organisation as irrigation schemes.”
One of the scheme members, Mrs Sinikiwe Moyo, said she is now able to pay school fees and is building a modern house from the payment he got after their first dividend.
“Before I joined the irrigation scheme, life was tough for me.
I used to do garden farming for survival and I wasn’t getting much from it.
I was living from hand to mouth.
I was struggling to send my children for secondary education.
But since I joined the scheme last year, I’ve managed to send my children to school.
I have also managed to start building a modern house although it is yet to be completed.
So once we get paid for the maize crop, I will also scale up the construction works,” said Mrs Moyo.
Another member of the scheme, Mrs Juliet Ngwenya, said she used to be a vendor before joining Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme.
She said her life has seriously transformed after taking farming as a business through the irrigation scheme.
“I was a tomato vendor before I joined this scheme.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I joined the scheme.
But within the short period I have been part of this programme, my life has significantly changed.
After the wheat harvest last year I was able to build a three-roomed house and I also managed to send my child to a boarding school,” she said.
Mrs Ngwenya said young people are now keen to work at the irrigation scheme as they see its benefits.
The community said family members could rotate working at the irrigation scheme as the requirement is that any member of the household should work at the fields on any given day.
Villagers said working at the irrigation scheme ensures that they become food secure.
Mr Thabani Moyo said while drought is ravaging some parts of the country after poor rains in the 2021/22 rainy season, they will have enough to sustain their families.