Government is expediting irrigation infrastructure and projects to shield farmers against unpredictable weather patterns, Business Times can report.
“Completion of irrigation development projects should be a top priority this year so that farmers can produce all year round and continue to produce in the face of extreme weather vagaries,” Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuka said.
The plan comes after 50 irrigation schemes under the Turnkey Phase 1 and the National Accelerated Irrigation Development programmes were developed as part of efforts to avert a food crisis.
The government aims to create an agro-based economy that is sustainable, resilient and self-sufficient in light of environmental shocks such as climate change-induced droughts being experienced across the region.
It is understood that 50 irrigation schemes will cover 6 865 hectares under the Turnkey Phase 1 and the National Accelerated Irrigation Development programmes.
The Government is accelerating the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North Province.
The dam is expected to pump water to Magwegwe reservoir for onward distribution to the City of Bulawayo.
The construction of dams in arid communities has improved food production and household incomes through small-scale irrigation and fisheries projects.
The government subsequently directed that smallholder irrigation schemes be commercialised and run as business entities from which farmers generate incomes and earn a living to ensure that farmers get the true value of producing crops under irrigation.
This was followed up by the deployment of 450 business managers to assist farmers with the necessary business acumen in running their irrigation schemes.
According to the government, the impact of Pfumvudza/Intwasa, as a climate-proofing strategy, has revolutionised the agricultural sector and safeguarded household and national food security.
Pfumvudza/Intwasa is a concept of conservation agriculture that is designed to meet food security for an average household of six members over one year.
According to the WFP about 80% of Zimbabwe’s 3.8m people face hunger as droughts have ravaged the southern parts of the continent.
WFP said it would only provide food aid to 20% of the hunger-stricken population.
Zimbabwe has been listed among 20 countries deemed to be hunger hotspots following drought-induced poor harvests in the 2021-22 farming season.
The WFP said at the peak of the lean season, some families were forced to skip meals, while others will have to sell livestock or other possessions to buy food.