Zimbabwe like any other country in the Sub-Saharan region is not spared from periodical droughts in the face of climate change and global warming since the turn of the 21st century.
The country is obliged to feed its population of over 13 million people. Many people would ask so what will the nation do to ensure food security to the entire population?
The answer lies in the bold step taken by government to revisit the importance of agriculture and ensure that every one has enough food to eat. Government has committed an annual budget of US$5 million towards the development of irrigation infrastructure which is set to enhance irrigation infrastructure in the country and improve food security.
Apart from government funds, developmental partners are chipping in with various funding mechanisms. The Japanese government through the Japanese International Co-operation Agency is funding the rehabilitation of Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme in Nyanga District, Manicaland Province covering 700 hectares to the tune of US$15 000. Upon completion, farmers would be able to carry out farming activities all year round. This improves the beneficiaries’ livelihoods and ensures food self-sufficiency.
The Kuwait Fund is working on the US$37 million Zhove Irrigation Scheme in Matabeleland South Province where 2 500 hectares are set to be put under irrigation.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Programme is working on 7-year projects in Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midlands Provinces. The programme will cost US$51 million.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is also working on a US$12 million programme in Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland South Provinces covering 1 700 hectares of land. The funding for the programme is coming mainly from the Swiss government.
The Brazil-Zimbabwe More Food for Africa Programme has been funded to the tune of US$44million and is earmarked for irrigation development in various parts of the country. The programme is running for three years until 2018 and it is covering 12 000 hectares. The programme is focusing on A1 and communal farmers, examples of which include the Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme in Binga District in Matabeleland North Province.
On the other hand, the Command Agriculture Programme, which has proved very successful, is working with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Israeli irrigation development company, Pedstock, to install 80 centre pivots systems across the country. According to the Director of Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Conrad Zawe, the country’s agricultural provinces are earmarked to get 10 centre pivots. He added that Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West Provinces would get most of the centre pivots citing that most donors were focusing their efforts on the country’s southern provinces owing to their drought proneness. The programme is being funded to the tune of US$7 million which is set to cover 4 000 hectares under A2 farms.
So far, 10 centre pivots have already been installed in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West Provinces. There are plans to power some irrigation projects on generators instead of electricity from the national grid as a way round power outages.
The Department of Irrigation also has plans to set up drip irrigation systems for farmers around Mhangura, Doma and Chinhoyi aquifer in Mashonaland West Province and at the Nyamandlovu aquifer in Matabeleland North Province. Dr Zawe noted that it was now possible to grow maize using drip irrigation. He pointed out that drip irrigation systems could be established on other water bodies save for those along the Manyame River owing to the hyacinth (water weed) which he said could easily block drip system.
In terms of manpower deployment, the Department of Irrigation is working hand in hand with Agritex where more than 104 extension workers had been tasked to assist farmers on their irrigation requirements. Previously, the Department of Irrigation did not have officers at Ward level save for those at District offices. The aforementioned agreement has the blessing of the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.