At least 10 major irrigation schemes in Masvingo province are set to undergo rehabilitation and expansion using $48 million budgeted for by Treasury under the National Accelerated Irrigation Development Programme (NAIDP).
Once implemented successfully, the development is expected to usher in a new era in food security in the province.
Mushandike and Chilonga irrigation schemes are some of the beneficiaries.
When fully operational, the two irrigation schemes have a combined irrigable hectarage of over 1 000 hectares.
Operations at the 847,5ha Mushandike Irrigation Scheme stopped in August last year after Mushandike Dam, which supplied water to the scheme, dried up owing to drought and massive siltation that forced plot holders to turn to dry-land farming.
Chilonga has not been operating since 2016 after silt submerged the pump station for the scheme in Runde River.
Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister Clemence Chiduwa, on Monday said Government had already availed funding for the schemes’ rehabilitation.
Upon completion of the rehabilitation exercise, irrigation services will be restored on a combined 1 350ha across Masvingo.
“We have 10 irrigation schemes across Masvingo that will benefit from NAIDP this year, and top on the list is Mushandike and Chilonga,” said Deputy Minister Chiduwa.
“At the end of the exercise, the province will have more hectarage under irrigation.”
The largest chunk of the funding, $14,2 million will go towards construction of a canal from Muzhwi Dam in northern Chivi to Mushandike Dam.
The canal will augment water supplies in the dam, leading to the revival of Mushandike scheme, which directly benefited 565 plot-holders before its collapse.
The Chilonga scheme was allocated $6,2 million and its revival is key to improving food security in the northern parts of Chikombedzi.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who toured the scheme last week, assured the Chilonga community of Government’s intention to ensure water reached plots at the scheme by August this year.