National irrigation drive progressing well-ZINWA

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Harare (New Ziana) – Dam construction across the country mainly for irrigation purposes is beginning to pay off, with land to be irrigated with water from one of the recently completed dams, Marowanyati Dam in Buhera, Manicaland province, already being cleared.

Despite limited funding for capital projects, the Zimbabwe government has forged ahead with the construction of several dams including the recently completed Marowanyati Dam, Sengwa in Mashonaland Central and Gwayi-Shangani in Matabeleland North province.

The dam projects are part of a deliberate strategy to move away from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation in pursuit of an agro-centric economic growth plan.

Construction of new water bodies is expected to assist food-insecure communities through providing water for irrigation and fish from Command Fisheries while electricity would also be generated from some of the projects.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), which is carrying out construction works for most of the dam projects. said an initial 100 hectares of land to be irrigated by water from Marowanyati dam was being cleared.

“Part of the work underway includes the construction of canals and over 5 kilometres on infield canals. The area has good red soils but poor rains that the district receives made it difficult for the communities to have meaningful harvests,” it said.

“The dam will irrigate 1 250 hectares in the arid district. The Dam also comes on board as a more reliable and stable raw water source for the expanding Murambinda Growth Point.”

ZINWA said other dam projects were also progressing well, with Bindura Dam now 38 percent complete.

“Construction of Semwa Dam in Rushinga is in progress. 12 000 hectares of land are set to be irrigated from this dam. Water will play a pivotal role in the realisation of food security and the attainment of vision 2030.”

The resuscitation of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector remains key to improving the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans and irrigation development could be the answer as climate change has affected rainfall patterns.

Development of irrigation schemes country-wide is part of government’s overall aim to ensure the country’s food security through reducing reliance on rain fed agriculture.

With over 70 percent of Zimbabweans living off agriculture, there have been calls for the government to invest more in irrigation to increase agricultural production.

The country has over the past few years seen its agricultural production fluctuate due to changing weather patterns as well as other production bottlenecks.

For example, in the 2014/15 farming season, Zimbabwe wrote off about 300 000 hectares out of an estimated 2 million hectares that were planted after crops wilted due to poor rains.

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