The resuscitation of the Qamata and Ncora irrigation schemes near Queenstown are fast changing the face of the two rural communities in the province. So say Mfuneko Jungqe, chairperson of the Qamata Irrigation Scheme and Ace Thosholo, vice chairperson of the Ncora Irrigation scheme who both expressed their appreciation for the work that government is doing in rebuilding the irrigation schemes.
The two were speaking during a stakeholder and community engagement session hosted by Premier Noxolo Kiviet in Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) to further discuss contents of the State of the Province Address (SOPA) she delivered at the Eastern Cape Legislature in February.
Whilst challenges were noted from various sectors in relation to the delivery of government services, the pair also used the platform to share the latest developments at Qamata and Ncora Irrigation Schemes. The schemes which were closed down around 1997 were recently resuscitated with assistance from the Provincial and National government.
Thosholo confirmed government’s report which states that about 14 000 litres of milk were produced at Ncora Irrigation Scheme on a daily basis. He shared that 1000 hectares of land have been used to plough white maize, while red maize has taken about 500 hectares. “The maize will be used for both feeding the cows and the families of the farmers involved in the scheme,” said Thosholo. A second dairy is currently being built which will see the scheme growing further.
At Qamata Irrigation Scheme, Jungqe applauded governments’ efforts to assist the farmers in re-building the scheme to even surpass its former glory. He stated that in 2012 government delivered 9 tractors and recently completed the building of infrastructure to store produce.
The pair appealed to Premier Kiviet for the maintenance of the road infrastructure that leads to the farms to ensure smooth transportation of products from the scheme to the market.
When fully functional, the two schemes and others in the province are set to create thousands of jobs for skilled and unskilled labour.
Premier Kiviet announced that government is looking at the development of a Special Economic Zone in the CHDM and the Department of Trade and Industry has started investigating the viability of the project. “The SEZ will tap into the potential of this area through the development of the agro-industry,” said Premier Kiviet.
Sighting some of government achievements on rural development, land, agrarian reform and food security, Premier Kiviet reported in her SOPA that the Shiloh Irrigation Scheme is producing 15 000 litres of milk per day which is supplied to Clover SA. She also shared the good story of Tyhefu Irrigation Scheme, where a partnership has been developed with Bonifruit for the scheme to supply Pomegranate fruit which covers 330 hectares of the farm. The Keiskammahoek Irrigation is reported to have doubled the supply of cows from 600 in 2010 to the current 1051.
Premier Kiviet encouraged communities to continue using the land to further develop themselves, saying that government is fully behind such initiatives.