Muidumbe (Mozambique), 4 Jul (AIM) – Residents of Muidumbe district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, on 3 July called for the revival of the Nguri irrigation scheme, which has been paralysed since the early 1980s.
They addressed this plea to President Armando Guebuza at a rally in the Chitunda administrative post, held as part of his “open and inclusive presidency” in Cabo Delgado.
Although the irrigation scheme ceased operating almost 30 years ago, Muidumbe peasants have tried to make use of the fertile land at Nguri, but with only rudimentary tools.
In a message read out at the rally, Chitunda residents said it made no sense for the irrigation scheme to remain paralysed at a time when the country hopes to become self-sufficient in grain, and wishes to fight against unemployment among its youth.
The report from the Chitunda local government for 2011, presented to President Guebuza, said that, despite the peasants’ efforts, yields from Nguri were very low.
Farmers in the area are still dependent on rainfall for their harvests, despite the presence of what was once regarded as an advanced irrigation scheme, located in the basin of the Messalo River. Unlike many watercourses in Cabo Delgado, the Messalo is a permanent river, flowing all year round.
In theory, the Nguri scheme can irrigate about 1,000 hectares. But there is no irrigation, since all the pumping stations are out of operation. AIM could note signs of corrosion of the equipment, and was told that some of the pump parts have been removed.
The irrigation channels are in a sorry state, and have been invaded by vegetation. The water intake points have been damaged, and the protective dyke against floods on the Messalo River has suffered leaks.
There was never any adequate maintenance for the Nguri scheme – but sources in Muidumbe are convinced that, despite the damage, the irrigation scheme can be rehabilitated.
When it was operational, the main crop grown in the irrigation scheme was rice. There was also production of potatoes, onion and garlic.
In the last agricultural campaign, Chitunda produced 33,925 tonnes of various crop – 97.7 per cent of the target figure of 34,719 tonnes. The report blamed the shortfall on irregular rainfall. (AIM)
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