Govt develops 50 irrigation schemes

File pic: Irrigation scheme

GOVERNMENT says it has managed to develop 50 irrigation schemes under the Turnkey Phase 1 and the National Accelerated Irrigation Development programmes as the country moves to avert a food crisis in the wake of climate change-induced droughts.

Zimbabwe is aiming to create an agro-based economy that is sustainable, resilient and self-sufficient in light of environmental shocks such as climate change-induced droughts being experienced across the southern African region.

Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of implementation and monitoring of government programmes, Joram Gumbo, told NewsDay Farming that the regime was also focusing on construction of dams, despite budget constraints.

“Government has managed to develop 50 irrigation schemes covering 6 865 hectares under the Turnkey Phase 1 and the National Accelerated Irrigation Development programmes,” Gumbo said.

“The construction of Chivhu and Gwayi-Shangani dams is in process. Chivhu is currently at 98% and is targeted for commissioning during the fourth quarter of 2022, despite budget constraints.”

The southern African nation has been intensifying construction and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes around the country. The construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North province valued at US$52 million is aimed at pumping 800 megalitres of treated water to the 108 megalitre Magwegwe reservoir for onward distribution to the City of Bulawayo.

Gumbo said: “The construction of dams in arid communities has improved food production and household incomes through small-scale irrigation and fisheries projects. The impact of Pfumvudza/Intwasa, as a climate-proofing strategy, has revolutionised the agricultural sector and safeguarded household and national food security.”

Pfumvudza/Intwasa is a concept of conservation agriculture that is designed to meet food security for an average household of six members over one year.

Droughts have ravaged the southern parts of the continent and, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), about 80% of Zimbabwe’s 3,8 million people face hunger  after the country’s major humanitarian organisation said it would only provide food aid to 20% of the hunger-stricken population.

The WFP announcement came as the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) warned against politicisation of food aid. USAid has so far donated US$36 million worth of food to vulnerable rural communities.

Zimbabwe has been listed among 20 countries deemed to be hunger hotspots following drought-induced poor harvests in the 2021-22 farming season.

The WFP says at the peak of the lean season, some families might be forced to skip meals, while others will have to sell livestock or other possessions to buy food.

Last month, Cabinet however said grain stocks at the Grain Marketing Board would last for 11 months and no one would starve.

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