Masuka fumes over US$1m irrigation scheme

Brilliant Mukaro

MASVINGO – The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Anxious Masuka, could not hide his anger over the poor running of the Nyahombe Irrigation Scheme in Chivi, established in June last year at US$1 million.
This is the first irrigation scheme to benefit from Togwe-Mukosi, largest inland dam, commissioned in 2017.

Masuka, voted the best Cabinet Minister, visited Nyahombe on Thursday and said that the scheme was not running like a business, thereby putting to waste the US$1 million loan which the Government got from AFC Bank to sink equipment to draw water from Tugwi-Mukosi Dam.
Shocked by the poor performance, he ordered the transfer of two agricultural extension workers supervising the project.
The scheme is in Ward 27 under Chief Shindi in Chivi, and it covers 80 hectares, with 68 villagers benefitting. Some 52 of the beneficiaries are women.

Masuka described the scheme’s running as medieval and said instead of being commercial, but subsistence agriculture that is in place.
“This is a million-dollar project, and the Government invested a lot. The management here is medieval, and there is no business whatsoever. You are turning what should be a thriving business enterprise into a subsistence plot,” said Masuka.
Asked for comment, Nyahonde Irrigation Scheme chairperson Mutede Makovere expressed his gratitude to Government for setting up the project for the community. He, however, complained that farmers are frustrated by the late payment of 40 tonnes of wheat delivered to the GMB last year.

The Minister heard that the first crop was winter wheat which only produced three tonnes instead of the target of five tonnes per hectare. Masuka said it was obvious that the current maize yield was also going to be far below its target per hectare.
Apart from maize, the villagers also currently have beans on the field.

Masuka urged the villagers to visit and emulate the Bubi-Lupane scheme irrigation scheme, which he said is a model of success.
The scheme is benefiting 68 farmers, and 52 of them are women.
“We are grateful to the Government for giving us this project. However, we appeal to the Government to help us with machines as it is difficult for us to plant and harvest our products manually,” said Makovere.
Masuka promised to give the scheme a tractor through an AFC loan payable over four years.

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