Lower Gweru (The Times-New Ziana) – Government will push forward with irrigation development through the National Irrigation Development Programme as this is a key means to ensure food security in the country, a cabinet minister said on Wednesday.
In a speech read on his behalf at the 2019 National Irrigation Competitions Prize Giving Day held at Insukamini Irrigation Scheme in Lower Gweru, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water Climate and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrence Shiri said irrigation was one of the surest ways to increase food production, and government would give it top priority.
With this, he said, farmers were not only less vulnerable to climate change, but able to increase incomes and reduce poverty, especially in rural areas.
“In light of climate change that has seen the country experiencing more frequent droughts, government will continue to push forward with irrigation development in rural areas through the National Irrigation Development Programme. The target is to develop 200 hectares per district per year over the next 10 years,” Shiri said.
He said irrigation programmes being implemented include the public sector investment programme, command agriculture, more food for Africa Brazil-Zimbabwe and smallholder irrigation revitalisation programme.
“Irrigation potential in Zimbabwe is estimated to be 2.5 million hectares.
To date it is estimated that the country has 210 000 hectares of developed irrigation facilities, of which 175 000 hectares are operational. Of this developed irrigation area, there are over 400 communal and A1 irrigation schemes with more than 27 000 beneficiaries,” said Shiri.
In 2019 alone, government targeted 13 000 hectares of smallholder irrigation schemes with substantial amount of work going towards irrigation rehabilitation and development.
Special attention was paid to the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes in Manicaland Province following Cyclone Idai’s devastation.
The Times-New Ziana