The rehabilitation intervention by the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) has resulted in improved efficiencies in watering, production and incomes at 62 hectare Banga Irrigation Scheme. The irrigation scheme has 294 beneficiaries.
According to the scheme chairperson, Mr Mateza Munogwei, SIRP laid new pipes from Banga Dam to the Scheme, a distance of 2.4km. In addition to the new pipes, the scheme’s irrigation system was changed from the canals to the current drag horse system. SIRP’s intervention also included the provision and erection of a 4.9km perimeter fence at the scheme.
Commenting on the impact of the intervention, Mr Munogwei said, “Before the SIRP intervention, the old pipes which conveyed water to the night storage dam used to leak, resulting in heavy water losses. This, in turn resulted in water at Banga Dam drying up because we used to draw a lot of water from the dam as some of it was being lost along the way. As a result, we used to stop cultivation of crops in the scheme during some months of the year as we waited for the commencement of the rainy season.”
Mr Munogwei beams, “It is a different story now. SIRP provided us with new pipes and water is now conveyed straight to the scheme with no losses. The new intervention is saving us precious water and we expect to irrigate in our scheme for the whole year.”
The intervention has also resulted in improved efficiencies in the scheme. Before the SIRP intervention, farmers used to wait for a long time for the night storage facility to fill up before they could commence irrigation. Commenting on the issue, Mr Munogwei said “We now take only 30 minutes for the water to reach the irrigation scheme. In addition to that, farmers used to spend 10 days in watering all the three blocks in the scheme. We are now able to achieve this feat within four days’’, he added.
The farmers are now able to cultivate all the three blocks at any one time in the process, utilizing the entire scheme fields.
Crops grown in the scheme include maize, ground nuts and sugar beans and wheat. Farmers at Banga are also able to cultivate crops at any time of the year, which has become an advantage for them. “We are now able to grow maize even in winter, which brings us a lot of revenue. We also cultivate groundnuts which we grow earlier that our counterparts in the rainfed areas and we supply markets as far as Beitbridge in Matabeleland South Province, Kwekwe, and Gweru in Midlands Bulawayo and Harare”, he said.