The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka commissioned four schemes completed under the Smallholder Irrigation Rehabilitation Programme (SIRP), including Exchange.
The 169-hectare Exchange Irrigation in Kwekwe District which is the largest communal scheme in Midlands was the first to be commissioned this year and is benefitting 982 farmers. The scheme had experienced a total breakdown in early 2017 due to a breakdown in the pumping units coupled with the drying up of the Exchange Dam due to siltation. The scheme breakdown resulted in rapid dilapidation of infrastructure.
The scope of works at the irrigation scheme included installation and electrification of three centrifugal pumps , supply of conveyance system, patching of canals, construction of 7813 metre canals tail end structures, distribution boxes and the supply of metal check plates of a 2 500 metre boundary fence including 12 gates. The scheme was rehabilitated at a cost of US$355,580.25.
Commenting on the revitalized Exchange Irrigation Scheme and the production within the scheme, Minister Masuka said, “Through the collaborative efforts of government, the OPEC Fund and IFAD , we have rehabilitated the scheme. What we are witnessing here is an eight to nine tonner crop. This can be replicated across the country and this is where scheme business viability determines profitability and this where production and productivity are linked to the President’s vision that agricultural production must cause rural industrialization, causing rural development for the attainment of Vision 2030. So indeed, it is possible to revolutionise development through such interventions. It is climate proofing agriculture through innovation”
Addressing the community during the commissioning, Chief Gobo said, “As a community, we all know that for a home to be stable, there is need for adequate family nutrition. As farmers whose scheme has been rehabilitated, we envisage ourselves living a better life due to much improved nutrition. The production and production that we have witnessed in the scheme is testimony of the passion that the farmers have for this scheme. Government expects each farmer to fully utilize their plot within the scheme to provide cereals and other produce for surrounding areas such as Zhombe, Nkayi and Msilahove. The fields in this scheme are different from those within the dry land which are cultivated occasionally. This field is like your shop which will only give you returns if you invest your time and labour in it. You must strive to respect the constitution of the scheme”