Changing Zim through irrigation

 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hailed the Siyalima Irrigation Scheme in Nyambari Village, Guruve South, saying the initiative is an excellent example of climate change adaptation and resilience building.

He made the remarks after touring the farm last Wednesday.

The Siyalima Irrigation Scheme is a Government-supported community project which is made up of 98 households which farm various crops and livestock on the 50-hectare farm.

“Due to climate change we are experiencing droughts more frequently than before which means water harvesting and irrigation is the only way we can ensure food security,” said President Mnangagwa.

“And I am happy with what you are doing here because when we were flying we realised that there are so many under-utilised water bodies.”

The farm has dam and borehole infrastructure with a combined capacity of two million mega-litres which can support all-year round agricultural production.

With Government donating a 50 hectare centre pivot irrigation system and a tractor, only the sky is the limit for the families involved in the project.

“Ever since we launched the project we have been empowered and our lives have changed,” said Mr Davis Nyambo, a member and chairman of Siyalima Irrigation Scheme.

“Now we can feed our families and still have surplus to sell for cash.”

Each family has been allocated half-a-hectare for irrigation which can give them up to seven tonnes yield of maize should it be put under intensive farming.

Maize and tobacco are the main crops being irrigated at Siyalima Farm, and nutrition gardens are also being set up.

“Apart from maize we also have fisheries, piggery and an orchard,” Mr Nyambo said. “We are looking at adding more activities such as value addition so that we realise maximum value from the land.”

Crops and livestock officer for Mashonaland Central, Mr Stanslaus Tapererwa, says the project is also set to combat deforestation.

“The Forestry Commission has supplied fruit trees which include mangoes, guavas, apples and TIMB has supplied 15 000 gum trees.

“There is de-forestration in this area due to tobacco farming so each farmer will get 2 000 gum trees.”

Mr Tapererwa said the Veterinary Department was sprucing up a dip tank and 1 400 hectares for the paddock area needed to be fenced.

“We have contracted all the farmers so that they access all inputs. Before, only four farmers were contracted. At least 50 000 small fish will be introduced in the dam.

“We also have another project of artificial insemination for the cattle to improve their breed.”

According to Mr Tapererwa, there is need for the land to be re-planned so that farmers share a hectare under irrigation and remain with three hectares each of dry land.

Given the surge of climatic change, where the rains are no longer predictable it is believed the project will have a significant impact on the community.

President Mnangagwa says such a project should not end with Siyalima Farm only but should spread across the country to contribute to national food security.

“Here at Siyalima Farming Project you have seen a centre pivot which the Government has provided,” said the President. “But there is more, we have built good relations with the Spanish Government and they have given us 80 centre pivots for irrigation country wide.

“Minister Chinamasa has set aside funds to assist each district to put 200 hectares of their maize under irrigation.”

The President also said the Government through Command Agriculture and the Presidential input scheme is putting up a system which ensures that the country is food secure even in drought years.

“We have a programme to end hunger for good,” he said.

“Minister (Perrance) Shiri and his team of experts say for us to meet our grain demand of two million metric tonnes we need 400 000 hectares of maize under irrigation under command agriculture.

“At the moment we have 159 000 hectares under irrigation and Government wants to increase it to over 320 000 so that even in drought years we will produce enough. So if there is drought and we irrigate 320 000 hectares of maize we will get more than 2,5 million tonnes of grain.”

On top of Command Agriculture the President says all rural households will benefit from Presidential input scheme whereby each will receive inputs to grow an acre of maize.

This would take the total land under maize to 1,2 million hectares.

“We should not just talk but also show by our works that we are serious about ending hunger,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Under the Presidential input scheme no-one will be left outside. We have also included small grains and soya beans in the scheme.

“But this year the programme did not do well as a result of sabotage, we were struggling to secure fertiliser, seed and chemicals. However, with what we have managed to do am sure will be successful.”

The President’s tone on water harvesting and food security is welcome particularly at this time when the country is experiencing one of its most unpredictable rainfall season.

Climate adaptation and innovative farming models will be key in ensuring food security going forward as seasons as temperatures become warmer.

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