Rutendo Ngara, Chronicle Reporter
TREASURY has allocated nearly $423 million towards the development of irrigation schemes countrywide.
Presenting the 2020 National Budget in Parliament on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said irrigation guarantees food security in the country.
“Under the 2020 Budget, irrigation development is receiving top priority in order to guarantee food security in the country. Government will therefore, target enough irrigable hectarage for support to guarantee grain production of around 1,8 million tonnes. For this purpose, capable farmers with irrigation facilities will be identified with a view to contracting and supporting them to produce required grain specifically for food security.
“For the total irrigation programme, the budget provides ZWL$422, 8million,” said the Minister.
He said government will support smart agriculture which promotes solar irrigation systems.
The Minister said the private sector is invited to contribute to the development of irrigation and other related infrastructure for agriculture.
“The private sector is also invited to contribute in irrigation and other related infrastructure development for agriculture. This includes investments in de-siltation of rivers and dams to restore the water ecosystem,” said Prof Ncube.
Recently, the Minister of State in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s Office, Evelyn Ndlovu, said Government is considering restructuring its irrigation schemes model after noticing that a majority of them are not viable owing to lack of diversity and business plans.
She called for a new approach to irrigation if the country is to return to its former status as the breadbasket of Southern Africa. Minister Ndlovu, who is also Bulilima-Mangwe proportional representation legislator, said lack of marketing strategies and lack of diversity where small schemes limit themselves to one line of crops as well as slow uptake of new technologies and failure to value add were affecting the schemes.
“We can’t continue doing one line of crop, we need viability in each scheme and for that to happen we need to diversify into a variety of crops and livestock in one year,” said Minister Ndlovu. – @missngara