George Maponga in Masvingo
At least US$265 million is required to develop irrigation land in arid parts of southern Masvingo that will use water from Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, a senior Government official has said.The dam is now 85 percent complete and expected to be finished between May and June next year. Vast swathes of irrigation land in parts of Chivi, Mwenezi and Chiredzi will be opened to irrigation using water from the dam. It will have a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Davis Marapira, last week said Government alone could not finance development of land to be irrigated by Tokwe-Mukosi Dam water.
He called on private companies, especially agro-based firms, to take advantage of the irrigation potential of the huge dam.
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government had already played its part by single-handedly financing construction of the dam that would become Zimbabwe’s largest lake after Kariba. “From preliminary studies that we have carried out, at least US$265 million is required to develop land that will be irrigated using Tokwe-Mukosi Dam water and we hope private companies will take opportunities created by the dam and help in the development of irrigation.
“Private companies can fund irrigation development and contract farmers to produce crops they want to consume. Government has played its part by building the dam (Tokwe-Mukosi),’’he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture has already crafted the Tokwe-Mukosi irrigation master plan detailing the proposed development of more than 25 000ha that can be irrigated using water from the dam. At least 5 000 hectares has already been identified for irrigation using the dam’s water at Nuanetsi ranch where over 3 000 families displaced by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin in March this year were relocated.
The dam is expected to increase sugar production in the Lowveld by 15 percent while thousands of hectares will also be irrigated in Matibi 2, downstream of the dam. Tokwe-Mukosi is being built at a cost of US$155 million.