The revitalization of Makwe Irrigation Scheme in Gwanda is of immense significance at it represents progress, development and transformation of the agriculture sector in Matabeleland South. Speaking at the commissioning of the 202 hectare irrigation scheme today , the second largest in the province, Minister of State for Matabeleland South, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu said the rehabilitation of the scheme was testimony of the collective efforts of government and its development partners in empowering rural communities and helping them to achieve sustainable development. Dr Ndlovu added that the province was positive that the production within the scheme would play a pivotal role in enhancing agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security and economic growth in the region.
Dr Ndlovu noted that the rehabilitation of the scheme had opened endless possibilities for the farmers who were now assured of a consistent supply of water, throughout the year, enabling the to increase their yields and improve their standard of living. The Minister also paid tribute to government’s development partners, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) who are co-financiers to the Small holder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP), which revitalized the scheme.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka said the revitalisation of irrigation and the transformation of schemes into business units was government’s way of ensuring that farmers were participants in the National Development Strategy and not spectators. The Minister also presented the farmers with a certificate of incorporation, with all the farmers in the scheme being shareholders and collectively taking ownership of the assets revitalized by government through SIRP.
The Chairperson of the scheme, Mr Lewis Ncube said following the revitalisation oof the scheme said, “The scheme is now old and most of the components were now old. The canals were now leaking but the coming of SIRP ushered in new technologies such as the piped water system which conserves water. The new system is not labour intensive as we no longer have to carry siphons from the storage facilities to the fields. After the contractor finished his work, we started utilizing the scheme and we planted horticulture products, followed by this winter wheat that you are seeing here today. Farmers have already started making money from horticulture sales. We are hopeful that we will, once again be able to make an income to cover school fees expenses and purchase other household requirements.”
The scope of works at the scheme included the revitalisation of the main conveyance system, pumping units at Tuli-Makwe, installation of a 60 hectare centre pivot and the installation of a piped surface irrigation system of 142 hectares. 200 households are benefitting from the intervention.