Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
ZIMBABWE needs to urgently revive irrigation schemes and establish new ones across the country to counter the possibility of drought and ensure sustained food security.
Addressing stakeholders during the launch of the Gweru district irrigation schemes management committee on Friday, provincial head for crop and livestock production, Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi, said Government was committed to the irrigation drive and that improving food security was a priority.
“Agriculture is the backbone of the economy and it propels development in all sectors of the economy. We need to revamp all irrigation schemes by working around problems they are facing through the district irrigation schemes management committee we launched today. As farmers we need to work with this committee, it’s a welcome development for the agricultural sector,” she said.
“Government introduced irrigation schemes to beat climate change and since 2016, we have had Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) assisting in revamping many irrigation schemes in Mberengwa and Gweru areas in support of Government programmes on improving food security.”
CCMT director, Mr Wonder Phiri, said his organisation has several projects running in the Midlands province and that the launch recognises that agriculture was the cornerstone of the economy.
“The goal of this programme is to ensure that productivity increases. We would like to thank Government ministries who are collaborating with CCMT in this pilot project.
“If it is successful it will be taken to other districts across the country,” he said.
Mr Phiri said since 2017 they have been conducting baseline surveys on a number of challenges affecting the viability of irrigation schemes with the hope of finding a lasting solution.
“A lot of things have been around leadership, financial responsibility and land tenure affect. So, we did joint project design with irrigation schemes to assist each other go to the next level. The likes of Zesa and seed companies were involved to work on challenges that work against food productivity.
“We chose Mberengwa and Gweru irrigation schemes and did strategic plans and we now have strategic plans and constitutions they developed themselves as irrigation schemes,” he said.
CCMT in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, has been implementing irrigation schemes support projects in Mberengwa and Vungu since 2017. The projects are aimed at contributing towards improved food security through a peaceful life for the inhabitants of irrigation schemes in Mberengwa and Gweru districts. The resuscitation of the District Irrigation Committees is also seen as critical in ensuring the sustainability of the projects initiated by CCMT and its partners.