Smallholder irrigation revamp to limit El Niño impact At least US$52,68 million is expected to be disbursed under the Government’s smallholder irrigation revitalisation programme. (File Picture)

Business Reporter

The irrigation rehabilitation scheme driven by the Government has come to the rescue of smallholder farmers across the country this farming season, amid high expectations it will reduce the impact of the looming El Niño-induced drought.

The irrigation scheme is a brainchild of the Government and development partners who injected US$51 million in 2022 towards the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) for rural farmers across the country.

SIRP national project coordinator, Mr Odreck Mukokera, said the programme was aimed at reducing vulnerability for the rural farmers and it is just doing that.

“At least US$52,68 million is expected to have been disbursed to the farmers at the end of the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP). This is a Government-sponsored programme, where we are getting support from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the Open Fund for International Development (OFID) and farmers who make the scheme possible,” he said.

Zimbabwe was allocated SDR 677 million equivalent to US$958 million by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is part of the SDR’s General allocation of US$650 billion that was released in 2021 to all IMF member countries.

It is from these resources the Treasury channelled part of the funds towards supporting key value chains such as horticulture, industry retooling, tourism and smallholder farming irrigation systems.

The smallholder irrigation programme has also been applauded as a way of ensuring food security at the household level as many farmers now have access to climate-proof infrastructure.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said the Government was concerned about food security and the smallholder farmers have contributed so much to the cause.

“You hear that the country is food secure but little is said about how the smallholder farmer has held their end in this journey. The Government has done its part in equipping them with the required tools, and currently, there is a sizable number of smallholder farmers who have maize under irrigation and some are preparing for the winter season. It is something which we rarely saw before the Second Republic,” he said.

The programme is further aimed at improving productivity and climate-resilient crop production, adopting good agricultural practices, and also climate-smart agricultural technologies, and most importantly, for farmers’ access to markets.

The SIRP was launched in 2016 as a way of reducing the vulnerability of smallholder farmers, enhancing food and nutrition security, as well as reducing farmers’ vulnerability to climate change effects and economic shocks and enhancing the resilience of smallholder farming communities to uplift incomes of rural households.

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