GREATER utilization and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities is now a major priority for government and private players in the agriculture sector and the duo are working on various initiatives to fully maximise the water bodies to mitigate pronounced droughts brought about by climate change.
Some of the initiatives by both public and private players include procurement of centre pivots for large commercial projects and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes for the small holder farmers.
Zimbabwe is estimated to have over 10 000 dams and this is sufficient to ensure food sufficiency and the country mitigates the impact of climate change
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) says agriculture accounts for 80 percent of the water that is used in the water bodies it manages.
However, despite this impressive figure land under irrigation is still a challenge in the country and this is not only a problem for Zimbabwe but the entire Southern Africa sub region.
“Despite its huge agricultural potential only 7 percent of arable land is irrigated – a mere 3.4 million hectares out of 50 million hectares of arable land. This is unacceptable for a region that relies on cereals particularly maize given the crop’s sensitivity to dry spells” says Patrick Kormawa Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Southern Africa Co-ordinator.
Deputy Mininster for Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Vangelis Haritatos acknowledged that irrigation capacity was still a challenge in the country and government was fully aware of the need to make huge investments in irrigation development.
“The growing effects of climate change on weather patterns make it imperative to have efficient and working irrigation facilities. We also need to accelerate and ensure that we make significant investments into irrigation facilities given the fact that generally, average yields in irrigated farms are 90% higher than those of rain fed farms”.
Seed producer K2 has also engaged with government institutions through private and public partnerships to that has seen a number of centre pivots brought in to enhance productivity.
“We have partnered with the UZ farm and Henderson research to carry out a number of projects that have seen us utilizing 150 hectares at each of the farms and we brought in 25 centre pivots last years and this year we shall bring the same number to ensure we boost productivity and mitigate the effects of climate change,” said K2 managing director John Makoni.
Currently ZINWA is levying US$2 for a million litres for communal farmers, US$3 A1 farmers, US$4 A2 farmers and US$12 for commercial agriculture estates.