17 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Govt Approves Command Irrigation Project

Cabinet has approved a special irrigation rehabilitation and development programme, which will see an additional 300 000 hectares of land being put under maize production to ensure national food security. The programme, which is an extension of the hugely successful Command Agriculture, is expected to produce around 2,1 million tonnes of maize that will be set aside for national strategic grain reserve.

The programme will enable farmers to develop irrigation infrastructure at affordable costs.

Maize, wheat and livestock are now being produced under the special programme -- Command Agriculture.

Institutions such as churches, prisons and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority with water bodies, and A1 and A2 farmers will also benefit from the irrigation development programme.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made confirmed the development last night.

He said instructions had been given for more dams to be constructed under the special programme.

He said the irrigation development programme targeted all water bodies across the country.

"For instance, all water bodies within the Manyame River system will be developed completely. This programme will further be elaborated under the Food and Nutrition Cabinet committee chaired by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa," said Dr Made.

"Once fully irrigated, the farmers will be able to produce winter crops such as wheat and other crops," he said.

Dr Made said there was need to strengthen the Department of Engineering as the country was currently faced with challenge of proper maintenance and operations of such systems.

"The Ministry will also work with other ministries such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade and the Industrial Development Corporation.

"These will play a major role in ensuring that we are self-sufficient," said the Minister.

"This is where countries such as Algeria, Iran, Russia, Egypt come in.

"We also have a number of experienced engineers whom we are going to call for them to make meaningful contribution.

"The programme will also see the training of farmers and managers who will effectively run irrigation development," he said.

Zimbabwe is expecting to receive 80 centre pivots worth over $6 million from Spain to aid irrigation under Command Agriculture as Government moves to adopt new technologies and to strengthen infrastructural development in support of the successful import-substitution programme.

Dr Made said the centre pivots from Spain signified a new thrust of embracing new technologies in agriculture to complement new programmes being implemented in the sector.

He said more companies manufacturing agricultural equipment from other European countries like Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Turkey had expressed interest in servicing with the local market.

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