ACUTE water shortages have resulted in some irrigation schemes in Masvingo province halting operations.
It is reported that a number of farmers have pulled out of the production chain particularly in wheat production this year leaving only a few with adequate water supply growing the crop.
Nyatare irrigation scheme in Zaka and Mushandike in Masvingo are examples of schemes, which saw a significant decrease in the production of winter crops as canals have dried up due to water shortages.
Speaking on the sidelines of a field day at Mutendi farm last week, acting Masvingo provincial Agritex officer, Mr Aaron Muchazivepi, said although they had targeted to put 500 hectares of land under winter wheat this year they only managed to plant 400 hectares owing to acute water challenges.
“We were confronted with irrigation water challenges in most projects due to the poor rains in the last farming season resulting in some farmers pulling out of the production chain,” he said.
“We also encountered challenges of load shedding and that affected our winter crops.
“In addition to the above, we also had problems regarding fertiliser acquisition,” he said.
Mutendi farm, located 47km along Masvingo- Mutare highway is among the few with flourishing projects, which have been put under winter and maize as part of the Command Agriculture programme.
The Minister of State for Masvingo province, Ezra Chadzamira who was the guest speaker, encouraged farmers to venture into small grains.
He said the idea of small grain production was far much better than maize in the current El-Nino situation.
Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s office who is also Masvingo North Member of Parliament, Davis Marapira, reiterated the need for more irrigation equipment to ensure food security in the country.
“Irrigation farming is the country’s breakthrough. Without irrigation, production in the country is heading nowhere.
“We need to increase irrigation infrastructure in order to revive our schemes across the country,” he said.
Masvingo province has the largest number of water bodies in the country, which if fully utilised may help address food shortages.
Among the big dams in Masvingo province are Mutirikwi, Tugwi-Mukosi, Muzhwi, Manyuchi, Bangala, Manjirenje and Siya.