Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
WORK on the 100-hectare Bona Irrigation Scheme, an initiative started by 80 villagers drawn from Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province two years ago has been completed.
Matabeleland North Department of Irrigation provincial chief Engineer Charles Makhula said cropping at the new irrigation scheme would start soon following the connection of electricity lines to the main grid last week.
“Electricity has been connected and we expect watering to start by next week (this week) and cropping activities are likely to start soon,” said Eng Makhula.
Bona Irrigation Scheme is a brainchild of 80 farmers from the Bona area who were resettled under the Government’s land reform programme at the turn of the millennium.
The scheme’s members paid a joining fee of $105, which was used to purchase equipment for land clearing purposes, $14 each for buying cement for the construction of a core unit house consisting of an office, resting room and a storeroom. They also contribute $4 a month towards payment of security personnel at the site and an additional $4 for absconding any duties being carried at the scheme.
The scheme’s chairperson, Mr Vote Ndlovu, said the completion of the project was an exciting development which would go a long way towards improving members’ livelihoods as well as economic growth in the district.
“The irrigation scheme will play a pivotal role in improving our livelihoods as we expect to generate substantial revenue from selling the produce we would have harvested there as well as enhancing our household food security,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The irrigation scheme draws its water from seven boreholes, which were drilled within the field.
“Our area is generally dry with relatively very low rainfall and having an irrigation of this nature is the only way we are assured of realising optimum yields,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The irrigation scheme is one of the many that got irrigation equipment under Brazil’s More Food Africa programme two years ago.
It was allocated a tractor, a plough, a planter, disc harrow and centre pivot irrigation system.
“What’s left now is to get a fence to secure the scheme. However, the number of members has decreased to 55 after some pulled out as the project seemed to be taking time to be completed,” said Mr Ndlovu. @DNsingo