6 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Ifad Extends $52 Million Loan to Government

The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has extended a $52 million loan to government towards the Small Holder Irrigation Scheme (SIRP) programme.

SIRP is meant to transform the lives of small holder farmers mainly in the dry parts of the country's four provinces namely Midlands, Manicaland, Matabeleland South and Masvingo.

IFAD was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

A member of IFAD since independence, Zimbabwe has been receiving technical and financial assistance for several smallholder irrigation projects in the rural areas.

The relationship came to an acrimonious end in 2006 after IFAD cut off support in due to the non-payment of arrears by the government.

"The program will run for the next seven years and is funded to the tune of $51, 68 million," Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister, Owen Ncube, told farmers at the district launch of small irrigation revitalization programme (SIRP) at Exchange Irrigation Scheme in Silobela last week Saturday.

SIRP, government said, is going to revitalize and develop 4 000 hectares of new smallholder irrigation schemes using existing water bodies in the country.

"This is an example of the commitment by the government of Zimbabwe to fulfill its promises to the community through supporting irrigation agriculture and securing food security," said Ncube.

The programme, Ncube added, "Targets the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, train farmers on climate smart agriculture and the funds are earmarked towards operation and maintenance of the scheme.

"This will allow government to concentrate on major rehabilitation works as well as expansion of schemes in order to broaden the scope of beneficiaries," he said.

The minister said the programme was set to improve market access for agriculture products.

"This will positively contribute to the resilience of smallholder farming communities in the face of climate change seen in the form of persistent droughts and flooding," he said.

Ncube told farmers that the fund will go a long way in promoting sustainable small holder agriculture and empowerment of women and youths.

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