The update on feasibility study of the proposed Tokwe Mukosi irrigation scheme, has been completed and now awaits input from Government, officials have said.
The Government contracted a South African company to re-assess the first feasibility study that was conducted three decades ago to identify the gaps that might may have arose as a result of changes largely from the land reform programme.
"The report in now with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement so that they can make recommendations on the draft report by the consultant," said one official.
"Thereafter, the contractor will embark on the second phase of the feasibility study that will come up with funding requirements and various designs on the proposed projects."
No official comment could be immediately obtained from the ministry by the time of going to print.
Some of the aspects covered by the feasibility study included types of soils, the existing and infrastructure that can be developed for the provision of water, climate change, various types of crops that can be grown in the area, potential local and international off takers of produce as well as the storage and value addition facilities.
The Tokwe Mukosi Dam was completed last year after almost two decades of construction characterised by numerous stoppages mainly resulting from funding challenges.
The Government has been funding the construction of the Tokwe Mukosi from its own resources through the Public Sector Investment Programme, being allocations from the National Budget. Since 2001, the Government spent $262 million on the dam.
Irrigation will be the main economic value to be realised from the dam.
At a yield of 364 000 megalitres per annum, the 2 billion cubic metre dam will have sufficient water to irrigate up to 25 000 hectares.
Economic value will also be realised from the mini hydro project where the Government has already made significant investment through providing funding for civil works.
Both existing and new irrigation schemes, hospitality and recreational facilities, a game park, fisheries and crocodile farms are expected to be developed. Some of the overlapping benefits include the upgrading of the Buffalo Range Airport as well as improvement in the livelihoods of the local communities through creation of jobs. There would also be a broader participation of the locals in the sugarcane farming.
Already, sugarcane growing and processing is the dominant economic activity in the Lowveld.