Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Department of Irrigation has started to install centre pivots irrigation systems at A2 farms in the Matabeleland region.
Matabeleland North Department of Irrigation chief engineer Charles Makhula said the department had installed four centre pivots in the province under Phase I of the programme.
The country received 80 centre pivots worth about $7 million from Spain to aid irrigation under the Command Agriculture Programme, as the Government moves to adopt new technologies and strengthen infrastructural development in support of the successful import-substitution programme.
“We have completed installing centre pivots at four farms in the province with three of them being in Umguza and one in Bubi. We expect to receive the remaining two before the end of September making it six under Phase One. Initially each province was supposed to be allocated eight centre pivots for Phase One but the figure was later revised to six,” said Eng Makhula.
Phase One of the programme saw beneficiaries being allocated centre pivots with a capacity to irrigate 20 hectares.
“The criterion for the selection of beneficiaries was such that a farmer should have adequate water supply, power as well as water pipelines and in the event that one didn’t have these they should exhibit to be in a position to have the required resources within a short space of time.
“The programme targeted A2 farmers and a number of farmers met the criteria but priority was given to those that were better resourced. More farmers will benefit in Phase II of the programme which will see the distribution of centre pivots able to irrigate 30 to 80 hectares and the facility will be worth $60 million,” said Eng Makhula.
Beneficiaries of the centre pivots are expected to pay full costs of the equipment under the Command Agriculture Programme’s stop order facility.
“Beneficiaries will pay full costs of the equipment through a stop order facility from the harvest they will get twice a year from their winter and summer crop,” said Eng Makhula.
Acting Matabeleland South provincial irrigation officer Engineer Shepard Mupotegwa said the installation of the centre pivots was on going in his area of jurisdiction.
“The centre pivots are coming in batches and it’s ideal because we don’t have proper storing facilities. So far we have received two and installed one and we will be installing another one in the few coming weeks,” said Eng Mupotegwa.
One of the beneficiaries Mr Kalani Ndlovu, the owner of the 840-hectare Mjayeli Farm in Umguza District said the mechanisation programme was a big step towards empowering farmers.
“This programme is quite empowering and in terms of the stance which we are taking with the Government as a partner we are likely to enhance the country’s food security. We will be able to water and now all what we are doing is working on getting connected to the electricity grid and we will be able to rotate from one crop to another throughout the year,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He cropped 14 hectares of maize under the Command Agriculture Programme and harvested more than 100 tonnes.
Centre-pivot irrigation (sometimes called central pivot irrigation), also called waterwheel and circle irrigation, is a method of crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers. @DNsingo