Zimbabwe: Govt, Sakunda Work On $68m Irrigation Project
Government and Sakunda will collectively invest $68 million towards installation of centre pivots to strengthen irrigation infrastructure in support of agricultural programmes for import-substitution, a senior Government official has said.
The investment into developing irrigation infrastructure comes at a time when Government is targeting 300 000 hectares of land under irrigation in the next three years.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister (responsible for crop production) Davison Marapira said Government was pushing for more irrigable land to deal with unpredictable weather patterns and enhance production.
"As we speak a number of farmers across the country have received their share of 80 centre pivots worth over $6 million from Spain to aid irrigation under Command Agriculture Scheme.
"Mashonaland Central Province has already received 2 by 20 hectares centre pivots, 2 by 30 hectare pivots and will soon receive 2 by 50 hectares centre pivots. We expect more centre pivots to come through the $18 million facility, which is going to be financed by Sakunda through irrigation development for centre pivots.
"At the same time we expect a $50 million facility from the Government coffers, which should assist in centre pivot development in the whole country. By so doing, we are helping our farmers to be productive all-year round and reduce dependence on rain- fed agriculture which may not be reliable to our farmers at times.
"In times of El Nino, rain-fed farming is not very reliable hence investment in irrigation facilities will shield our farmers from such happenings," said Minister Marapira.
The country has about 170 000 hectares of irrigable land and intends to increase the hectarage to 300 000 hectares in the next three years to maintain high levels of food production.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made recently said negotiations were under way for a further $60 million facility to procure more and bigger irrigation equipment from the same European country, Span.
The irrigation equipment is being supported through cordial relations the good that the country has with China, Russia, India, Spain, Brazil and Belarus. Dr Made said grain deliveries have topped 500 000 tonnes and more deliveries were expected.
"We have already surpassed the 500 000 tonnes mark and more deliveries are expected to come in the coming months. The majority of farmers are yet to deliver to the Grain Marketing Board. With the irrigation development facilities in place, I hope we will surpass the two million tonnes of maize," said Deputy Minister Marapira.
He is optimistic that the 300 000 hectares of irrigable land will be reached within the next three years. Irrigation facilities will be extended to every strategic crop and livestock as part of efforts to achieve the desired results in all areas of supply chain.
He said Government was still rolling out the More Food for Africa Programme Brazil irrigation scheme, in terms of which about $69 million out of the $98 million has been used.
The programme is mainly benefiting A1 and communal farmers to enhance their tonnage per hectare. 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 worth of implements to kick start various irrigation projects in the last quarter of the year.
By Livingstone Marufu