‘Solar-powered irrigation systems the way to go’ Professor Obert Jiri

 

Ashton Mutyavaviri

 

IT is fast becoming crucial for farmers to invest in solar-powered systems to generate reliable electricity supplies for irrigation purposes if their intentions to commercialise operations are to succeed.

 

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Professor Obert Jiri recently hinted that solar-powered systems would offer a promising off-grid solution that could provide farmers with a stable and renewable source of electricity to run their operations.

 

“There is an increase in the frequency of droughts. With this drought prognosis, irrigation will have to be undertaken for longer periods with any power-induced disruption having severe negative effects,” said Prof Jiri.

 

Solar is particularly attractive because of its positive environmental impact, job creation potential and economic development potential.

 

In the Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment 2 (CLAFA), the Ministry indicated that in February 2024, a nation-wide power disruption was experienced and many irrigators were switched off, despite post-paid arrangements having been put in place.

 

Prof Jiri also stressed that joint planning and better communication were required to ensure uninterrupted electricity supplies.

 

Unreliable or lack of access to the electricity grid is a major obstacle for many Zimbabwean farmers, hindering their ability to power essential farming equipment and irrigation systems.

 

The Government is on the drive to drill 35 000 boreholes across the country and the intention is to solarise all of them.

 

Under the Presidential Borehole Drilling Programme, beneficiaries will receive solar-powered boreholes to ensure access to clean water and for secondary uses like watering their nutritional gardens.

 

The project is in line with the Presidential Rural Development Programme where the Government plans to set up 35 000 village business units, 4 800 youth business units and 9 600 school business units by 2025.

 

It is set to benefit over 1, 8 million households as the Second Republic accelerates efforts to alleviate poverty among rural communities in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

 

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) secretary general Mr Paul Zakariya said solar-powered irrigation equipment would boost agricultural activities and ultimately increase production thereby creating employment for many people and earning foreign currency for the farmer and the country as well.

 

ZFU national youth secretary, Mr Joshua Zinzombe added that new energy value chains such as solar irrigation, cold chains and bio-digesters were clean and renewable, which saves the environment.

 

He said youths in agriculture must adopt renewable energy, which is being spearheaded to encourage the reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

 

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