Government will soon roll out phase two of the More Food for Africa programme (Brazil facility) and the Command Centre Pivot Programme with more emphasis on modern water and energy-saving technologies like centre pivots and drip irrigation systems.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Director of Provincial Affairs in her office, Cde Kennedy Mugarisanwa, yesterday, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Cde Mandi Chimene told delegates gathered for a provincial irrigation competitions prize-giving ceremony at ARDA Transau irrigation project that Government was also targeting developing 200ha of irrigation per district to benefit smallholder and communal farmers.
The competing irrigation schemes included ARDA Transau and Alma in Mutare District, Premier Central and Brooksville in Mutasa District, Chiduku Ngowe in Makoni District and Middle Sabi Stage 3A in Chipinge District.
"Government has also engaged the private sector under Command Agriculture programme for the supply of 80 centre pivots targeting 3 200ha, seven of which have already been installed in Manicaland Province to cover a total of 318ha. Also, under the Food and Nutrition Cluster, Government has set targets to increase farming area from 220 000ha in 2013 to 250 000ha by year 2018 through the rehabilitation, construction and modernisation of existing irrigation schemes," she said.
Cde Chimene said Government had in 2015 secured a $98m irrigation equipment and machinery loan facility under the More Food for Africa programme, which benefited six irrigation schemes in the province.
"In its first phase the programme received 10 pumping units, three centre pivots and 17 hose reels and installations of the equipment have since been completed on all six projects. The second phase is underway and the province is going to receive more irrigation equipment," Minister Chimene promised.
Minister Chimene also reminded the gathering that Zimbabwe was a signatory to Agenda 2030, which culminated into Sustainable Development Goals whose aim is to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 and ensure that all people - especially children - have access to sufficient and nutritious food all round.
"This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices, supporting small-scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets. This all requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity," said Cde Chimene.
She said the sustainability of irrigation schemes was only achieved through farmers contributing towards the capital, operation and maintenance costs of their machinery and equipment - something which ARDA Transau Irrigation Scheme had managed to do to win the competition.
The competition's adjudicators were drawn from Agritex, Department of Irrigation, Zinwa and the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union. They were looking for a scheme that had run its affairs professionally and competitively without leaving things to chance. ARDA Transau came first and won $1 000 and a 50kg pack of seed followed by Chiduku Ngowe, which walked away with $750 and 25kg of seed with Middle Sabi Stage 3A coming third and taking home $700 and 20kg seed.