Water challenges facing the country have resulted in some irrigation schemes in Masvingo drying up resulting in the province missing its targeted winter wheat production hectarage.

A significant number of farmers pulled out of the winter wheat production scheme this year, with only a few who had enough water at their irrigation schemes planting the crop.

Mushandike is one such irrigation scheme which saw a significant drop in the planting of wheat as canals have dried up due to water shortages.

Speaking on the sidelines of a field day at Mutendi farm in Masvingo, Agritex Acting Provincial Officer, Mr Aaron Muchazivepi said the province had targeted at least 500 hectares of wheat but only 400 were put under the crop.

“We faced challenges of water, we did not receive enough rains so farmers ended up not taking up the crop. We also had challenges of load shedding and so that affected the winter crop. We also had challenges in terms of fertilisers,” said Mr Muchazivepi.

Mutendi farm is among the few with a flourishing winter crop under the command agriculture programme.

Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Ezra Chadzamira who attended the field day encouraged farmers to turn to small grains which perform better than maize in the event of low rainfall.

Masvingo North legislator, Cde Davis Marapira who is also the Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s office, reiterated the need for more irrigation infrastructure to ensure food security for the nation.

“Irrigation remains the way to go. Without irrigation we are going nowhere,” said Cde Marapira.

Despite having the largest number of water bodies countywide, Masvingo is yet to utilise dams in the area to full capacity, with the province continuing to face severe food shortages in times of drought .

The dams include Tugwi Mukosi, Muzhwi, Siya , Mutirikwi and Manyuchi .