Moshi — AT long last the government is embarking on a project that would revive Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme as it is set to release 5.4 bil/- this year.
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Erasto Zambi unveiled the good news after he toured the scheme that has not been operating to capacity for quite a while.
Mr Zambi told jubilant rice farmers here that the money is to be used for construction of two dams and six boreholes in the first phase towards ensuring maximum utilisation of the area.
Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme has 2,300 hectares but irrigation infrastructure is available in 1,100 hectares, although due to lack of water about 500 hectares are cultivated yearly.
Mr Zambi who was recently appointed to the portfolio said under Big Results Now (BRN) strategy, his ministry is committed to make sure enough water is available for the farmers so as to maximise operation and consequently output.
"This problem has lasted for long and we are tackling it under the Big Results Now (BRN) strategy so that the 2,300 available hectares are not left idle, while our government and Japan government invested enormous amounts of money," said the deputy minister.
In his tour, Mr Zambi inspected paddy and surrounding areas to see for himself how troubled the farmers have been due to water allocation, but assured them in the first phase more than 700 hectares will get sufficient amountsof water.
He said despite the fact that the government knew the problem, the ministry decided to have a special tour so as to satisfy itself as to the current state of affairs.
Speaking during the visit, Moshi Rural Legislator, Dr Cyril Chami commended the government for its bold decision that had been awaited by stakeholders. He said many government leaders in different levels had been giving promises about the now approved revival of the scheme.
The government's earlier plan was to construct an infrastructure that would tap water from Kikuletwa River, but it abandoned the idea after consultation with engineers because the project would be too expensive, in the region of 60 bil/-.
Acting Irrigation Engineer and Technical Services, Pascal Shayo, said the main problem with the scheme was lack of enough water caused by climate change and an increase of users for different reasons and caused a lot of disputes among farmers.
Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme was constructed in 1987 by Tanzania government with assistance from Japanese Government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme has of late been producing an average harvest of 6.5 tonnes per hectare in a year, changing livelihood of the farmers to better in such things as housing, access to health services, educating their dependents and getting proper meals.
Villages covered in the scheme are Chekereni, Mabogini, Oria and Rau.