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One of the sugarcane plantations under LUSIP II which is under pivot irrigation system.

By Nomusa Dlamini and Silindzelwe Nxumalo

…LUSIP II driving success through bulk water irrigation.

The Eswatini Water and Agriculture Development Enterprise (EWADE) recorded a historical increase in providing bulk water irrigation infrastructure to smallholder farmers and transforming the agriculture landscape in the country.

A feather in the cap for EWADE is the highly successful implementation of the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP), a flagship project that has been replicated in many parts of Africa and beyond, as the model for poverty alleviation and socio-economic growth.

Implemented in the South-Eastern Lowveld of Eswatini, spanning Siphofaneni to Bigbend, the project has delivered tangible results in providing irrigation water to smallholder farmers and transforming rain-fed subsistence agriculture into irrigated commercial cash crop production.

So successful was the implementation of LUSIP I that the project is expanding to LUSIP II, and is geared to have an even greater impact in transforming the lives of thousands of emaSwati, particularly populations in the rural areas.
“A net irrigation area of 5,728 ha consisting of about 5,273 ha of new irrigation area and 455 ha of existing irrigation will be brought under the LUSIP II canal system,” it is reflected in a statement issued to the media by EWADE.

LUSIP Phase II is an extension of LUSIP Phase 1, and it seeks to extend the Main Canal South (MCS) to service irrigation blocks in the greater Matata area.” EWADE is a wholly owned government parastatal under the Ministry of Agriculture.

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EWADE has a significant economic footprint in the country’s economy and all aspects of emaSwati’s daily lives. This is through employment creation, poverty alleviation, the promotion of inclusive economic activity and wealth creation, and sustainable livelihoods.

From its inception in 1999, EWADE has successfully presided over sustainable development projects valued at over E12 billion, and the organisation is hailed as a game-changer in providing a growing social and economic utility for the population of eSwatini residing in the project areas through stimulating agricultural activity.

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In the process, EWADE continues to provide the best possible service to rural communities for food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable climate-smart agriculture. Against this backdrop, EWADE conducted a media tour of LUSIP Phase II, during which journalists from some of the country’s media houses were briefed about the project and allowed to see first-hand its transformative impact on thousands of emaSwati.

The tour focused mainly on Pillar 3 of the project; being strengthened bulk water administration and infrastructure maintenance. It also included a tour of two farms that address Pillar 1; being smallholder farmers directly integrated into the commercial economy through the establishment of farmer-managed irrigation companies.

“The project consists of four components: namely the development of secondary irrigation pipe networks supplying different irrigation blocks, on-farm infrastructure development, and project management and engineering supervision,” it was stated.

The other project objectives, of the project are:

  • Objective 2: Biophysical Environment Effectively managed to promote conservation and minimise negative impacts of project construction and operation.
  • Objective 4: Improved quality of life for people living within the PDA.
  • Objective 5: Efficient project coordination and management.

Regarding planting progress under LUSIP II, a total area of 613,23 hectares has been planted and of these, 491.83 hectares is sugarcane, 121,4 hectares of banana and 32 hectares of beans.

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