AllyCAD Showcase

A First of its Kind

Du Plessis & Burger Consulting Engineers,

When farmers in the Moamba/Sabie district of the province of Maputo visited the Nkomazi area in Mpumalanga, they were greatly impressed by the activities and success of these small-scale sugar cane farmers. From this visit an idea was born to work together to develop a similar project in the district of Moamba, creating the first seeds that led to the establishment of COFAMOSA.

The Committee for the Facilitation of Agriculture between Mozambique and South Africa is a dream come true for many farmers in the Nkomazi area of Mpumalanga. According to the COFAMOSA arrangement, South African farmers will receive a 40% allocation of the proposed 29 000 hectares irrigation development for a period of 45 years. In exchange for the 45-year renewable lease, farmers will share their business and agricultural skills with their Mozambican counterparts as part of a skills transfer and job creation initiative.

"This R3.7 billion cross-border project is a first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). We were extremely proud when we were appointed as Project Engineers, as it meant that we could contribute to improving the lives of thousands of farmers in the Moamba district," says Bernard Masher, Civil Engineering Technician at Du Plessis & Burger Consulting Engineers.

"The findings of our pre-feasibility study delivered some interesting results. Our investigation confirmed that there is sufficient high potential irrigation land available along the Komati and Sabie rivers. There is also enough water available for irrigation purposes from the Corumana dam on the Sabie River. This dam was constructed in the late eighties and provides an excellent supply of water for the proposed 29 000 ha irrigation development," notes Masher.

"According to our study, we found that it would be viable to raise the Corumana Dam in order to increase its gross storage capacity from 880 to 1375 mill m³. This will cause the Sabie River to back up into the Kruger National Park across the South African / Mozambique border. The raising of the Corumana Dam is currently in progress with a $38,0 mill funding from the World Bank."

The project has significant implications for the district of Moamba and the Mozambican national economy. "The COFAMOSA initiative has the potential of generating a total of 18 000 permanent jobs and 7 500 additional ones. This equates to more than 70% of all the economically active people in the area. Furthermore, additional people will be trained on construction skills for irrigation infrastructure and these people will be responsible for maintaining the infrastructure during implementation."
  "Two hundred farmers were selected for the first phase of the project, of which eighty are from the South African Nkomazi region and 120 from Mozambique. The 29 000 ha irrigation development will be developed in three phases, with phase one and two consisting of 10 000 ha each and phase three 9 000 ha."

When asked how an irrigation development initiative could possibly provide a solution for unemployment in the Sabie area, Bernard responds: "The advantages of farming with sugar cane and other irrigated crops are numerous. It has a relatively low operating cost when compared to other dry land crops and the capital invested is far easier to manage, preventing financial mismanagement. Irrigated agriculture is also relatively easy to grow, allows financially sound crops to be selected, and because of the relationship between the farmer and the agro-businesses, is easy to finance and collect debts and production credits. In addition, the export of the crop has the capacity of generating huge amounts of foreign currency for the Mozambique economy." Masher explains enthusiastically.

According to Bernard, civil engineering software will be used quite extensively in the actual feasibility study. "We will be undertaking an in-depth engineering investigation and will be relying very heavily on both Civil Designer and AllyCAD to produce the necessary data. Our focus will be on a major bulk irrigation water supply system, bulk electricity supply, road infrastructure, irrigation land and agro-business developments."

"We also find that bulk water, electricity distribution and tarred roads will not only impact on the farming community, as the electricity will become available for all households in the area. In addition, the upgraded roads will improve tourist access and benefit the local economy, allowing the local and national economy to receive a substantial boost."

"We have proposed that the government fund the bulk infrastructure in the proposed developed area, while farmers fund their in-field irrigation equipment and production cost through loan funding. The new agro-businesses will be funded by private enterprises."

"This kind of investment will have major long term benefits for the national economy of Mozambique and the expenditure on bulk infrastructure will be repaid over time by the government from water levies and the income tax that the farmers and the agro-businesses will be paying."

"The COFAMOSA Irrigation Development project will take a total of nine years to implement, but the results will be well worth it over the long term. Once this initiative receives the final funding green light, we could very well be contributing to the making of agricultural history," says Bernard with a huge grin.

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