South Africa: Didiza Commissions Ebenhaezer Irrigation Scheme

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, and Western Cape Agriculture MEC, Ivan Meyer, have officially commissioned the Ebenhaezer Irrigation Scheme in the West Coast District.

In 2020, the community of Ebenhaezer, roughly 40 km from Vredendal, successfully concluded a land restitution claim they submitted in 1996.

In terms of the claim, the 2 000 strong community received 23 700 hectares of land, and significant government funding to help locals manage the restored farms.

The revitalisation of the Ebenhaezer Irrigation Scheme consisted of several elements that included upgrading the off-farm irrigation infrastructure to ensure the on-farm viability of farming.

The National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development took responsibility for upgrading the bulk water infrastructure of this irrigation scheme.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture, in turn, accepted the responsibility for the on-farm development of the allocated agricultural land.

Speaking at the official commissioning of the scheme on Saturday, Didiza said the project is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the different spheres of government collaborate.

"This is a great example of national government's District Development Model, where national, provincial and municipal spheres of government work together towards the development of the community," Didiza said.

Meyer, who switched on the on-farm irrigation system during the visit, said the two spheres of government working together had benefited the farmers and community of Ebenhaeser.

"The Ebenhaezer Irrigation Scheme is the result of successful partnership and collaboration. Every farmer requires land and water security, and today we have delivered that," said Meyer.

Meyer said the scheme brings about improved water security, greater sustainability, increased production and enhances market access opportunities.

"Ultimately, it will lead to economic growth and more jobs being created in the region," Meyer said.

A total of 153 farmers now have access to irrigation water for their plots.

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