From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has challenged Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) to play a leading role in transforming arid parts of southern Masvingo into a perennial greenbelt by optimally utilising the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Chivi.
The reservoir is Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body with a full capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres with potential to irrigate more than 25 000 hectares.
Tugwi-Mukosi is still to be utilised for irrigation development ever since it was commissioned in May last year.
The dam was built by Government at a cost of over $250 million. President Mnangagwa last week said the dam should be the weapon to combat hunger in perennially drought-stricken Masvingo province.
Speaking during the GZU’s 12th graduation ceremony, where he was also installed as the institution’s Chancellor last Friday, the Head of State said the institution of higher learning should spearhead efforts to make sure Tugwi-Mukosi was fully exploited for irrigation.
“This institution (GZU) must, thus, meaningfully contribute to turning the province a greenbelt through the full utilisation of the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, research and use of small grain seed varieties among other initiatives.”
“In the same vein, universities should also carry out market research to help penetrate export markets,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President, said GZU, through its Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture, was supposed to be the leading driver in developing modern and irrigation systems to arrest food insecurity.
President Mnangagwa just like the late national hero Cde Gary Magadzire, the GZU school named after the veteran agriculturalist and farmers’ leader was supposed to draw inspiration from his life.
“I challenge the Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture to draw inspiration from the character and passion of the person after whom the school was named, and develop cutting edge breakthroughs in crop science, livestock farming and irrigation development,” said President Mnangagwa.
Tugwi-Mukosi has the potential to make Masvingo the fulcrum in the fight against national food deficit through a large-scale irrigation development that will see the production of both cash crops and staple grains downstream of the dam.
Government is currently seized with crafting a master plan for the dam that will have to be okayed by Cabinet first paving the way for commencement of irrigation development at the dam.
Besides irrigation Tugwi-Mukosi has scope for power generation via a mini-hydro power plant and also tourism development taking advantage of the scenic topography around the reservoir.