Government has secured a $98 million facility for irrigation equipment and machinery under the More Food for Africa Brazil programme, which will benefit 28 irrigation projects in Manicaland Province. Nyanyadzi and Nenhowe irrigation schemes in Chimanimani District are set to be the first beneficiaries of the loan facility.
Speaking at the commissioning of Nyanyadzi Irrigation Scheme last week, Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired) said the move was targeted at increasing the area under functional irrigation and focus would be on rehabilitation, construction and modernisation of existing irrigation schemes.
"The ministry has initiated several irrigation programmes under the Public Sector Investment Plan, Command Agriculture and More Food for Africa Brazil Programme. The focus is on rehabilitation, construction and modernisation of existing irrigation schemes," he said.
"In this vein, the Government secured a $98 million irrigation equipment and machinery loan facility under the More Food for Africa programme, which benefited 28 irrigation projects in the province. Chimanimani District and, in particular, Nyanyadzi and Nyanhowe irrigation schemes are beneficiaries."
Air Chief Marshal Shiri (Rtd) said the programmes sought to increase the functional irrigation area from 220 000ha to 250 000ha by the end of this year. He told farmers who were gathered at Nyanyadzi Primary School that the new dispensation would put more emphasis on modern water and energy-saving technologies. Modernisation, he said, did not involve sophistication of infrastructure only, but had a lot to do with management techniques as well.
"The sustainability of irrigation schemes is only achieved by way of farmers contributing towards capital, operation and maintenance costs. In this regard, I would like to urge all communal farmers to pay the $50 irrigation levy, water and electricity bills. This is a development that is in line with farming as a business," Air Chief Marshal Shiri (Rtd) said.
Air Chief Marshal Shiri (Rtd) urged farmers to take advantage of Government's agricultural support systems and fully utilise the land despite the economic hardships that the country was facing. He encouraged farmers with plots which are underutilised to take full responsibility and invest on the pieces of land.
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Senator Monica Mutsvangwa bemoaned the failure by farmers in the province to maximise on the area's irrigation potential in the province.
"Manicaland is blessed with abundant land and water resources, resources that culminate into an irrigation potential of 120 000ha, of which the equipped area is just under 33 000ha across all farming categories," she said.
"However, it is disheartening to note that the greater part of this potential lies in the agro-ecological Region 5, which is characterised by high temperatures and evaporation rates, making irrigation a key enabler for sustainable agriculture production."
Minister Mutsvangwa acknowledged the efforts made by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement in the resuscitation and expansion of irrigation in the province. It is believed that most irrigation facilities in the province are being affected by ageing infrastructure and diminishing water flows in major rivers.