Ir­ri­ga­tion the fu­ture of agric in Zim

The Manica Post - - Analysis - Eli­jah Chi­hota Post Cor­re­spon­dent

ZIM­BABWE like any other coun­try in the Sub-Sa­ha­ran re­gion is not spared from pe­ri­od­i­cal droughts in the face of cli­mate change and global warm­ing since the turn of the 21st cen­tury. The coun­try is obliged to feed its pop­u­la­tion of over 13 mil­lion peo­ple. Many peo­ple would ask so what will the na­tion do to en­sure food se­cu­rity to the en­tire pop­u­la­tion?

The an­swer lies in the bold step taken by Gov­ern­ment to re­visit the im­por­tance of agri­cul­ture and en­sure that every­one has enough food to eat.

Gov­ern­ment has committed an an­nual bud­get of US$5 mil­lion to­wards the devel­op­ment of ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture which is set to en­hance ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture in the coun­try and im­prove food se­cu­rity.

Apart from Gov­ern­ment funds, de­vel­op­men­tal part­ners are chip­ping in with var­i­ous fund­ing mech­a­nisms.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment through the Ja­panese In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion Agency is fund­ing the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Nyakomba Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme in Nyanga District, Man­i­ca­land Province cov­er­ing 700 hectares to the tune of US$15 mil­lion.

Upon com­ple­tion, farm­ers would be able to carry out farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties all year round. This im­proves the ben­e­fi­cia­ries’ liveli­hoods and en­sures food self-suf­fi­ciency.

The Kuwait Fund is work­ing on the US$37 mil­lion Zhove Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme in Mata­bele­land South Province where 2 500 hectares are set to be put un­der ir­ri­ga­tion.

The In­ter­na­tional Fund for Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment (IFAD) Pro­gramme is work­ing on seven-year projects in Man­i­ca­land, Masvingo, Mata­bele­land South and Mid­lands prov­inces. The pro­gramme will cost US$51 mil­lion.

The Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) is also work­ing on a US$12 mil­lion pro­gramme in Man­i­ca­land, Masvingo and Mata­bele­land South Prov­inces cov­er­ing 1 700 hectares of land. The fund­ing for the pro­gramme is com­ing mainly from the Swiss gov­ern­ment.

The Brazil-Zim­babwe More Food for Africa Pro­gramme has been funded to the tune of US$44mil­lion and is ear­marked for ir­ri­ga­tion devel­op­ment in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try. The pro­gramme is run­ning for three years un­til 2018 and it is cov­er­ing 12 000 hectares. The pro­gramme is fo­cus­ing on A1 and com­mu­nal farm­ers, ex­am­ples of which in­clude the Bulawayo Kraal Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme in Binga District in Mata­bele­land North Province.

On the other hand, the Com­mand Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme, which has proved very suc­cess­ful, is work­ing with the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe and the Is­raeli ir­ri­ga­tion devel­op­ment com­pany, Ped­stock to in­stall 80 cen­tre piv­ots sys­tems across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tor of Ir­ri­ga­tion in the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion Devel­op­ment, Dr Con­rad Zawe, the coun­try’s agri­cul­tural prov­inces are ear­marked to get 10 cen­tre piv­ots. He added that Mashona­land Cen­tral, Mashona­land East and Mashona­land West Prov­inces would get most of the cen­tre piv­ots cit­ing that most donors were fo­cus­ing their ef­forts on the coun­try’s south­ern prov­inces ow­ing to their drought prone­ness.

The pro­gramme is be­ing funded to the tune of US$7 mil­lion which is set to cover 4 000 hectares un­der A2 farms.

So far, 10 cen­tre piv­ots have al­ready been in­stalled in Mashona­land Cen­tral and Mashona­land West prov­inces. There are plans to power some ir­ri­ga­tion projects on gen­er­a­tors in­stead of elec­tric­ity from the na­tional grid as a way round power out­ages.

The De­part­ment of Ir­ri­ga­tion also has plans to set up drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems for farm­ers around Mhangura, Doma and Chin­hoyi aquifer in Mashona­land West Province and at the Nya­mandlovu aquifer in Mata­bele­land North Province.

Dr Zawe noted that it was now pos­si­ble to grow maize us­ing drip ir­ri­ga­tion. He pointed out that drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems could be es­tab­lished on other wa­ter bod­ies save for those along the Manyame River ow­ing to the hy­acinth (wa­ter weed) which he said could eas­ily block drip sys­tem.

In terms of man­power de­ploy­ment, the De­part­ment of Ir­ri­ga­tion is work­ing hand in hand with Agri­tex where more than 104 ex­ten­sion work­ers had been tasked to as­sist farm­ers on their ir­ri­ga­tion re­quire­ments.

Pre­vi­ously, the De­part­ment of Ir­ri­ga­tion did not have of­fi­cers at Ward level save for those at District of­fices. The afore­men­tioned agree­ment has the bless­ing of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC).

Farm­ers at Nyakomba Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme in Nyanga are ex­pected to carry out farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties all year round

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