GOVERNMENT has through the 2019 national budget set aside $36.5m for the development of 7 000 hectares on 115 irrigation schemes across the country.
The irrigation schemes are expected to mitigate the effects of drought, climate change and increase agricultural production and productivity.
Under the National Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation Programme, government targets development of around 200 hectares per district, utilizing the abundant water bodies in the country with support of development partners.
Some of the partners supporting the irrigation rehabilitation schemes include Japan which is expected to continue with the construction and rehabilitation of Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme in 2019 with an amount of $1.6m being disbursed and targeting works on the distribution pipelines, irrigation canals and installation of electrical equipment for pump stations.
Under the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalization Programme co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural development (IFAD), Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) and government an amount of $11.4m will be availed for development of feasibility studies and rehabilitation of 24 irrigation schemes in four provinces.
Another $2.2m from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development will disbursed during 2019 for detailed designs and other works for Zhove Irrigation Scheme estimated to benefit 5 000 households.
According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) the country has over has over 8000 dams with 240 registered as large dams. The authority 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 Southern Africa Co-ordinator.