Loveness Mpofu, Sunday News Reporter
AT LEAST 5 000 tonnes of maize are expected to be harvested at Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme in Binga which planted its first crop this year after the intervention of First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe.
The irrigation scheme planted its first crop in May, for the first time since it was set in 2004, after Dr Mugabe sourced farming equipment comprising tractors, knapsack spray, water pumping units and disc ploughs among others. It had failed to take off for all the years due to funding problems.
In an interview last week, Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme chairperson Mrs Veronica Munkuli said harvesting was delayed due to burst pipes.
“We are expecting to harvest our first maize by November this year. We had been facing water challenges because of pipes which were bursting continuously. We planted 100 hectares of seed maize, 25 hectares of millet seed and 12 hectares of potatoes. We have 250 hectares already pegged and in future we are looking forward to cover the whole 16 000 hectares,” she said.
Mrs Munkuli said they embarked on winter maize because the crop does well during the season. Normally maize is grown in the summer season. The multi-million dollar project draws water from Zambezi River, a few kilometers away. The irrigation scheme is part of the Zambezi Green Valley (Zagreva) project, aimed at ensuring a green belt in areas along the Zambezi River stretching from Kazungula to Kariba.
It is one of the key projects meant to complement the Zim Asset agenda by addressing the country’s food needs.
Binga is one of the country’s driest areas with relatively very low annual rainfall and infertile soils, a situation which makes rain-fed cropping unreliable with optimum yields only expected to be realised through irrigation. -@lvydvy1