Arda in mission to revive 460 irrigation schemes Mr Leonard Munamati

Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter

THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority will lead in the revival of 460 irrigation schemes where it will employ a manager at each scheme responsible for cropping and marketing of products as the Government steps up efforts to mitigate the climate-change induced drought, a senior official has said.

Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services acting chief director, Mr Leonard Munamati, said reviving irrigation schemes and consolidating existing ones was part of measures meant to combat the effects of drought in the event that it does not rain sufficiently enough, as happened in the 2023/2024 summer cropping season.

He said this during a Star FM current affairs radio programme, “Muriro on Monday”, which discussed various measures being initiated to combat the effects of drought.

“We actually have 460 irrigation schemes in the country. We want to upscale production on these 460 irrigation schemes, communal, old resettlement, A1, all these should be doing wheat this winter season and probably horticulture for nutrition and income,” said Mr Munamati.

“We need to increase production and productivity. We are going to use Arda where it employs a scheme business manager who will be resident on the scheme and these managers will help in cropping, marketing, and availing resources to the scheme so that they become functional. 

“We believe these schemes are going to be useful in drought mitigation measures.”

Mr Munamati said Zimbabwe’s food security will be based on wheat, adding that Government had put in place several measures to ensure the country is food secure. 

“We are going to make sure that our food security is wheat based. Remember we had some excess wheat that we produced last year and that excess wheat will be used as part of the Strategic Grain Reserve together with small quantities of maize and traditional grains that we have at the Grain Marketing Board. 

“That will be our starting point in terms of assisting vulnerable households that did not harvest. We are also saying, ‘yes this year we had a drought but we are going to have something, remember we had 75 000 hectares that was under irrigation in terms of maize’. 

“We are expecting a bit of harvest from the irrigated maize as well as a few hectarages that managed to produce grain that was under Pfumvudza (Intwasa) and other schemes. That should be able to push them up to the time we also get help from imports. The private sector is coming in and got permission to import as much as they can.”

Once there is increased wheat output, the effects of drought would be managed, said Mr Munamati, adding that by October this year, wheat harvesting should start.

The target for wheat hectarage has been increased from 90 000ha last year to 120 000ha this year. 

Speaking on the same programme, Agricultural Industry Development Support Institute for Southern Africa head of programmes, Mr Joseph Choga, commended the Government for coming up with measures to contain drought.

“It is important that we understand the animal we are talking about when we talk of this year’s drought. It is hard-hitting,” he said.

President Mnangagwa has acknowledged the food shortages and recently declared a State of Disaster over a drought after erratic rains caused a weather phenomenon called El Niño.

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