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August 30, 2008

South African smallholder potato irrigation scheme rehabilitated

A Limpopo (South Africa) irrigation scheme has been upgraded at a cost of R18 million (US$2.3 million) and is expected to boost the productivity of small-scale farmers.

The upgraded Tswelopele Irrigation Scheme "was successfully rehabilitated through the department's Rehabilitation of Small Holder Irrigation Schemes (RESIS) programme," said provincial agriculture department spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele.

The scheme irrigates 440 hectares of land. Eighty-four small scale farmers, who have formed the Tswelopele Farming Co-Operative, are producing potatoes on a three-year contract for Simba South Africa on 310 hectares of the land. The remaining 130 hectares of land will be used to grow seasonal vegetables that will be sold locally.

They are expected to harvest their first crop within the next few weeks. They have the potential to yield between 30 and 35 tonnes of potatoes per hectare.


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