Hundreds of plot-holders at Mushandike Irrigation Scheme have been left in a quandary after the dam which used to supply irrigation water to the 800-hectare scheme dried up following a prolonged dry spell.
Mushandike is Masvingo's biggest irrigation scheme and was the source of food for communities in Charumbira communal lands, the adjacent arid Chivi District and Masvingo City, which provided a market for green produce from the scheme.
The scheme's future is now bleak after Mushandike Dam upstream in Mashandike Game Park dried up.
Most parts of Masvingo have received below average rains since the start of the current rainy season.
Plot-holders at the scheme traditionally grow winter wheat, maize and sugar beans, but water levels in Mushandike Dam are now critically low, threatening wildlife in the sanctuary.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira said urgent intervention was needed to rescue the scheme from total collapse.
Minister Chadzamira said the Government, through Zinwa, had initiated the Muzhwi-Mushandike canal project to save Mushandike Irrigation Scheme from collapse.
The planned canal seeks to draw water from the idle Muzhwi Dam in Chivi North to Mushandike Dam.
"Feasibility studies for the canal project have been completed and we expect work to start subject to availability of funding for the project.
"The planned canal will permanently end water problems at Mushandike Irrigation Scheme which will get water supplies from Muzhwi Dam, which can store a lot more water owing to its size," he said.
Minister Chadzamira said Government conceived the Muzhwi-Mushandike canal project after clear signs that Masvingo's biggest irrigation scheme faced threats from perennial water shortages.
"Mushandike used to be the province's breadbasket and as Government we are keen to restore it to its yesteryear glory now, more so in the face of recurrent droughts caused by climate change which require us to have a bias towards irrigation farming for food self-suffiency."
Mushandike Dam started experiencing water challenges following the proliferation of human settlements in its catchment area which is blamed on unscrupulous village heads illegally parcelling out land.