Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
WORK on the completion of the first phase of one of the country’s biggest irrigation schemes, Bulawayo Kraal in Binga District, Matabeleland North Province is expected to be completed next month.
Department of Irrigation’s Matabeleland North Engineer Benjamin Mangwiro, said Bulawayo Kraal failed to crop maize for the 2016/17 farming season under the Government’s Command Agriculture Programme at its 200-hectare first phase fields due to the outstanding works at the scheme.
The estimated 5 000-hectare irrigation scheme is part of the more than 10 000-hectare Zambezi Green Valley (Zagreva) project and seeks to ensure a green belt in areas along the Zambezi River stretching from Kazungula to Kariba.
“At the moment we are working on completing work at our two pump houses. We have one pump house which draws water from the river to the overnight storage dam which is situated within the fields and we have another one situated in the fields, which supplies water to the centre pivots (irrigation equipment),” said Eng Mangwiro.
The centre pivots irrigation equipment covering 200 hectares has already been installed with the fencing of the fields having completed including the electrification process.
“The major work left is the two pump houses. We are looking at completing working on them in time of the winter crop. We are looking forward to participating under the Command Wheat Programme though we are still flexible on the crop we might put. However, our target might be hampered by the slow release of funds,” said Eng Mangwiro.
In 2015 the irrigation scheme was allocated five tractors, three disc ploughs, three planters, 75 knapsack sprays and eight water pumping units under Brazil’s More Food for Africa funding programme.
The irrigation scheme was officially launched in 2006 and seeks to ensure a green belt in areas along the Zambezi River stretching from Kazungula to Kariba and has been described as a major step towards addressing the country’s perennial food shortages.