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Irrigation scheme committees receive training file pic

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

THE Agricultural and Marketing Authority (AMA) has capped a programme to rehabilitate smallholder irrigation schemes by training irrigation marketing committees on agricultural marketing and contract farming in four provinces.

The Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) undertook to rehabilitate non-functional irrigation schemes in the programme that is set to end this year after running for seven years.

In a recent twitter post AMA said marketing committees in the four provinces only were set to receive the training.

“AMA, SIRP and Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Service (ARDAS) personnel have embarked on a marketing training exercise that is meant to capacitate farmers on commercial production. Farmers are being taught the basics of successful production that starts with a market analysis to give direction to the production process in line with domestic and export requirements,” AMA livestock and horticulture expert Mr Simon Pande said yesterday.

He said farmers must do market-led production and be conscious of food safety standards such as global good agronomic practices (GAP) among others, for both local and international markets.

SIRP programme coordinator Mr Odreck Mukorera said the trainings were being undertaken in all the four provinces where irrigation schemes were rehabilitated by SIRP.

“The trainings are meant to ensure sustainability of production on these schemes, as the programme comes to an end this year. After the training, farmers will be expected to have an improved business approach, be able to find and influence market as well as have a market-driven approach. The training shall be done in all rehabilitated irrigation schemes in Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Manicaland provinces,” he said.

The programme’s main objective is to reduce vulnerability of smallholder farmers to food and nutrition insecurity, climate change effects and economic shocks.

It is co-financed by the Government of Zimbabwe, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The programme has a budget of US$52 million with IFAD providing a grant, which covers 50 percent of overall costs, while the Government is financing taxes and duties to the tune of US$7, 7 million. OFID is financing 29 percent of all programme costs covering civil works related to irrigation rehabilitation and road improvement.

Beneficiaries contribute US$3, 28 million in both cash and kind for operations and maintenance of rehabilitated infrastructure as well as soil and water conservation activities.

SIRP has rehabilitated 66 irrigation schemes in the four provinces with a total area of 6 100 hectares. At least 27 500 households, 8 500 irrigators, 19 000 farmers in greater scheme areas, 2 000 youths and 500 extension officers have benefitted under the programme that revitalised production and productivity in all schemes.

The current training exercise is a follow-up to an earlier training exercise on the maintenance of schemes and operations for sustainable use of irrigation equipment that SIRP conducted.

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