HARARE – Government is yet to put in place plans towards the implementation of a comprehensive irrigation and mechanisation programme, at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing erratic rains due to global climatic changes.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said “they had no answer yet” on how much government targets to invest in mechanisation and irrigation.
“We know the projects, what we want is the costing so that we then look and see what are our priorities on annual basis are. We can’t do everything in one day, so we have to prioritise and say what to do any one year. There are some (projects) which are small, some which are huge. For instance Tokwe-Murkosi should come on stream next year and has the potential of opening up 25 000 hectares,” he said.
This comes as the country has experienced droughts in recent successive seasons while calls have been made for government to consider setting up irrigation schemes as a permanent solution to the drought prone regions in the country.
Statistics from the United Nations-World Food Programme show that this year more than 2,2 million people will need food assistance.
Government as at the end of June, disbursed a cumulative total of $50,5 million in dam construction, water conveyance infrastructure and its rehabilitation.
Zimbabwe requires more than half a billion dollars for development and rehabilitation of irrigation structure critical for sustainable agricultural production and food security.
The agriculture ministry’s second crop assessment report indicates that only 798 600 metric tonnes (mt) of maize were harvested in the 2013 season compared to the 968 000 metric tonnes in 2012,against a national requirement of 1,8 million mt.
Last week, government unveiled a $161 million farming inputs support facility that will benefit at least
1,6 million farmers in the pending season.
The programme is primarily targeting communal, old resettlement, small-scale and A1 farmers.