Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
PHAPHAMANI Irrigation Scheme in Umguza District, Matabeleland North Province last week won a national competition organised by the Department of Irrigation to select the best performing irrigation scheme which benefited irrigation equipment under Brazil’s More Food for Africa Programme.
Phaphamani Irrigation Scheme won $1 000 for coming first in the competition, Fanisoni of Nkayi District was second and got $750 while Alice Dale was third and it was rewarded with $500.
The three schemes’ extension officers were also rewarded with $100 each.
The prize money was donated by agricultural input suppliers.
Eight irrigation schemes in Matabeleland North benefited under the programme which is a result of the Brazil-Zimbabwe co-operation agreement which put in place a $98 million loan facility for the procurement of irrigation equipment, tractors and implements.
The equipment was distributed to projects in all of the country’s eight (rural) provinces. The projects were identified after a countrywide needs analysis by technical experts from Brazil and Zimbabwe. Under the agreement, farmers’ groups were required to pay a commitment fee to ensure ownership.
Matabeleland North provincial chief irrigation engineer Charles Makhula said the competition which was held on Friday at Phaphamani Irrigation Scheme in Umguza District was national and was aimed at awarding the irrigation schemes based on best agricultural practice.
“It’s a national competition which includes all the irrigation schemes that got equipment under the programme. We are now waiting for results of the national competition which will be announced soon,” said Eng Makhula.
The irrigation scheme were rewarded based on key issues of productivity, record keeping, maintenance of equipment and infrastructure, security, general hygiene of the scheme (cleanliness of drinking water and ablution facilities), environment (appropriate use of pesticides as well as disposal of chemical containers).
“The idea is to get farmers to interact and learn from each other as well as encourage co-operation between the farmers and extension officers. Next year the competition is going to be bigger as it will include every irrigation scheme in the country,” Eng Makhula said.