Government has earmarked $52 million for development and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure to improve productivity on farms all year round. The development is set to increase the size of land under irrigation with farmers producing crops all year round.
A senior official in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Herald Business that both small scale and large scale farmers will benefit from the $52 million resource envelope.
Zimbabwe wants to set up more irrigation schemes to consolidate food security gains achieved by Special Maize Production Programme known as the Command Agriculture.
“In the 2018 budget we have been allocated $52,1 million for irrigation rehabilitation and development, targeting at least 200 hectares per district to be implemented annually over the next 10 years.
“This should create the necessary resilience to rainfall variability, critical for food self-sufficiency and to improve on cooperation and coordination within the various spheres of Government.
“A Project Steering Committee will be set up, comprising key stakeholders, to oversee the overall implementation of the programme,” said the official.
Zhove Irrigation Project that will be funded by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, will also get its chunk from the investment.
In addition, development partners are also supporting rehabilitation and development of a number of irrigation projects under the following facilities : The Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Project, co- funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), OFID and Government will disburse $6,9 million towards the revitalisation and expansion of Musikavanhu, Sebasa, Chikwalakwala, Exchange and Rupangwana irrigation schemes.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with support from the European Union, will disburse $2 million for ongoing works at 20 irrigation schemes in Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces.
An amount of $3, 3 million will be disbursed by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for ongoing works at Nyakomba Irrigation Project Block A. Through the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, FAO will also disburse $3,4 million towards 14 irrigation schemes in Masvingo province.
Government also undertook Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) Projects in areas such as Chiduku – Tikwiri in Manicaland, Chitora in Mash East and Fuwe Panganayi in Masvingo to shield farmers from drought.
The reasoning behind these low cost irrigation schemes is to help old resettlement, communal and A1 farmers to grow crops all year round.
Government is pushing to move the current irrigable land of around 150 000 hectares to 300 000 hectares under irrigation in the next three years.
Of the irrigable land 50 000 ha is under sugar estates and the remaining 100 000 ha comprises of: A1 and A2 farming sectors, small holder and communal sectors, large private sectors and Arda estates.
Having secured $6 million from Spain, the country is negotiating for a further $60 million facility to procure more and bigger irrigation equipment from other European countries.
Low cost irrigation equipment continued to be supported through cordial relations that Zimbabwe has with China, Russia, India, Spain, Brazil and Belarus.
Irrigation facilities will be extended to every strategic crop and livestock as part of efforts to achieve the desired results in all areas of supply chain.
Of the More Food for Africa Programme, Brazil irrigation scheme has a $98 million facility and Government has already mounted $69 million irrigation schemes across the country.
The programme is mainly benefiting A1 and communal farmers to enhance their tonnage per hectare.
Zimbabwe has extended the Brazil More Food for Africa $98 million irrigation scheme to mission schools, churches and prisons, among other institutions under Phase Two of the programme as the food security net is cast wider.
Further, disbursements under the facility are conditional upon utilisation and repayments by benefiting farmers.
Government is still negotiating for agriculture equipment suppliers to provide $30 million worth of implements to kick start various irrigation projects in the last quarter of the year.