VICE President Kembo Mohadi has said Zimbabwe cannot continue to rely on grain and cereal imports when the country has the capacity to utilise irrigation schemes that are lying idle throughout the country to produce enough food to feed its people.
The Vice President was speaking on the sidelines of a launch and signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and SPA Community Trust in Bulawayo yesterday.
He said equipping irrigation schemes was the best solution to cut grain imports.
“Our ultimate plan is to feed people through irrigation. We have more than 10 000 dams in the country, but there is no meaningful irrigation that is taking place, most of them are just master plans. For instance, Tokwe Mukosi, if they take up about 25 000 hectares of land under irrigation, we can develop that so that people can have food. We do not want a situation whereby we rely on imports of grain. We want to grow it (grain) internally. All the dams that we have will create irrigation schemes,” he said.
VP Mohadi said crops under irrigation could sustain the nation as seen by the Tongaat Hulletts irrigation scheme in the Lowveld which is about to harvest winter maize.
“The advantage is that, in that region we can plant winter maize because temperatures are high. We are saying so because we have an example of Tongaat (Huletts) who have just put 4 000 hectares of winter maize so we can still do it,” he said.
VP Mohadi encouraged farmers to start planting crops as there are predictions of a good farming season.
“The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) predicts that the cropping season will be better, they have detected La Nina which is the one that brings rains to this region. So we encourage people to start planting crops with these earliest rains. It is important that there is now a bit of moisture on the ground with at least 20 millimetres of rain so they can start planting crops,” he said.
Rains have started falling in the greater part of the country and some farmers have started planting various cops.
VP Mohadi said the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, a crop production intensification approach under which farmers ensure the use of resources (inputs and labour) on a small area of land in order to optimise its management, must be adopted.
“We are encouraging that they (farmers) go the Pfumvudza way so that they maintain the moisture in the soil. With Pfumvudza we have what is called mulching, where farmers put grass and leaves so that moisture does not evaporate fast. I think we can do something,” he said.