AGRICULTURE, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made yesterday said engineers in his ministry were being underutilised because of limited funding for government capital projects.
He was speaking during the signing ceremony of a six million Swiss francs grant to support eight small-holder irrigation development and rehabilitation projects in Masvingo province.
“We are grateful for the grant as we have had human resources that have been sitting idle for lack of financial resources especially in the ministries of Agriculture and Transport where engineers are not being fully utilised,” Made said.
“I note that the key components of the programme include physical rehabilitation of the irrigation schemes, capacity development and commercialisation of small-holder irrigators in addition to strengthening of institutions particularly the department of irrigation.”
The fund, the minister said, would enhance the government’s economic blue-print, ZimAsset, which envisaged that growth in the agricultural sector would be underpinned by substantial investment in the rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation schemes.
Government has said it plans to increase functional irrigation area from 150 000 ha to 220 000 ha.
The development will further help farmers be cushioned from the vagaries of climate change that were now frequently happening in the region.
Earlier on, Swisss ambassador to Zimbabwe Luciano Lavizzari had said his country was ready to directly engage Zimbabwe on developmental assistance.
This was the first direct funding to the State that has come from a European country in the last decade.
Most of the developmental assistance extended to Zimbabwe in the past decade was done through third parties, mostly United Nations agencies.