Agribank has invested over $2,1 million into irrigation infrastructure across the country in an effort to improve agriculture productivity and casting the food security net wider. The development is set to increase the size of irrigable land as the country moves to produce all crops all year round and combat against drought related hunger.
Also, Government is negotiating for agriculture equipment suppliers to provide $30 million worth of implements to kick start various irrigation projects across the country. Agribank is participating in small scale irrigation scheme such as Chiduku - Tikwiri in Manicaland, Chitora in Mash East and Fuwe Panganayi in Masvingo. Agribank CEO, Mr Sam Malaba, told The Herald Business that the bank will continue to support and set up irrigation schemes to ensure that the Command Agriculture remains a success.
"Under the Brazil Facility, the bank disbursed more than $2,1 million in support of 36 irrigation schemes across the country to make sure Government programmes have succeeded and are done all year round. The bank continues to support maize production under both Command Agriculture and the Brazil More Food for Africa Facility to ensure that productive levels remains very high," said Mr Malaba.
Agribank continues to be the largest financier for sugarcane smallholder farmers in the Lowveld and will once again provide substantial financial support to sugarcane farmers through the rehabilitation and setting up of more irrigation schemes. Meanwhile, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, said more irrigation schemes under More Food For Africa Programme irrigation schemes will shield farmers from droughts.
"We have extended the irrigation programme to institutions such as prisons, churches and mission schools, among others so that they can be able to sufficiently provide food for their people and the surrounding communities. For many years, we have discovered that some institutions do not have adequate food supplies so instead of waiting for the State or any other organisations to provide food to them, they can grow their crops all year round under the irrigation scheme. Brazil irrigation scheme also supports the school feeding scheme by providing irrigation equipment that will see most schools giving their children a balanced diet," said Dr Made.
Equipment worth $38,7 million was distributed under Phase One of the More Food for Africa Programme, which lapsed in December after benefiting A1 and communal farmers countrywide. Further disbursements under the facility are conditional upon utilisation and repayments by benefiting farmers. Government is still negotiating for agriculture equipment suppliers to provide $30 million implements to kick start various irrigation projects in the first quarter of the year. This will further benefit A1 and communal irrigation farmers. Government is pushing to move the current irrigable land of around 150 000 hectares to 300 000 hectares of land under irrigation in the next three years.
Of the irrigable land 50 000ha are under sugar estates and the remaining 100 000 ha comprises of: A1 and A2 farming sectors, small holder and communal sectors, large private sectors and Arda estates. Having secured $6 million from Spain, the country is negotiating for a further $60 million facility to procure more and bigger irrigation equipment from other European countries. Low cost irrigation equipment continued to be supported through the good cordial relations that Zimbabwe has with China, Russia, India, Spain, Brazil and Belarus.