Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Government will next year roll-out an extensive irrigation equipment programme to communal farmers throughout the country as it bids to enhance crop production in the wake of climate change.
Agriculture, Irrigation and Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira who is responsible for crop production and irrigation development said the Government was stepping up its efforts to develop and rehabilitate irrigation schemes throughout the country as relying on rain-fed cropping has over the years adversely affected anticipated optimum yields in the advent of drought.
He said the Government was looking forward to distributing Centre Pivot irrigation equipment systems which cover an area of five to 10 hectares to communal farmers.
“As the Government we are proposing five-hectare centre pivots, which can be facilitated by boreholes and other water bodies.
We have realised that our communal farmers have a very big challenge in production, the reason being the effects of climate change. As a result they can no longer produce efficiently so the five hectares centre pivots, which can be five or 10 hectares depending on the size of the fields, will help them to go a long way in productivity,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
He said the programme would be funded by various development partners including the Brazil More Food for Africa programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The country secured a $98 million loan to buy irrigation equipment, tractors and implements through Brazil’s More Food for Africa programme two years ago.
“We have programmes such as the one run by FAO, which assist us quite a lot especially in terms of food provision and irrigation revitalisation as well as resuscitation. These are some of the partners who can help us finance the centre pivots,” said Dep Minister Marapira.
FAO recently released a grant of €6,3 million towards revitalisation and resuscitation of irrigation schemes in Masvingo District.
Deputy Minister Marapira said the Government was also set to benefit agricultural and dam construction equipment through a Belarus facility.
“The Belarus programme is a facility between the Zimbabwean and Belarus governments, which is going to assist us with a lot of equipment. We are going to have agricultural equipment, construction for the reconstruction of our dams and at the same time will focus on borehole drilling beside the roads equipment and other machinery,” he said.