Source: Zim poised for agric revolution | The Herald April 23, 2016
From George Maponga NANDI ESTATES in Chiredzi
Zimbabwe is set for a major agricultural revolution that will see the country becoming self-reliant in food production within the next four years through sustained use of existing water bodies to grow crops under irrigation, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
The Acting President said Government had sealed deals to acquire agricultural and irrigation equipment from India, Russia, Brazil and Belarus as part of a new thrust to expedite the shift from over reliance on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.
Speaking during a tour yesterday to assess developments at the Nandi Arda Estates in Chiredzi that is undergoing revival following a partnership between Arda and private investors, Acting President Mnangagwa said agricultural and irrigation equipment to boost the new irrigation thrust had already started arriving in the country.
He said Government wanted all existing water bodies to be harnessed for food production in both winter and summer.
‘’The equipment that we are talking about has already started arriving into the country, and it is coming in phases because we want to make sure that there is irrigation at every place where there is a water body such as a dam or perennially flowing rivers, so that we can grow crops both in winter and in summer and become self-reliant in food production,’’ he said.
‘’In the next four years, we do not want to be importing food anymore, and we can only do that if we harness all the available water in dams and rivers for irrigation. We want to mechanise our agricultural sector heavily, and we will give our people farming and irrigation equipment, but they will not get it for free. They will have to pay,’’ he added.
The Acting President said teams would soon be dispatched to identify idle water bodies so that they are harnessed for irrigation.
Recurrent droughts, added Acting President Mnangagwa, caused by climate change had jolted Government into seriously considering a shift towards irrigation, which was a reliable source of food.
The Acting President hailed Arda, describing it as a giant that was slowly waking from a deep slumber to complement Government efforts to revolutionarise the agricultural sector.
He said Arda had entered into meaningful partnerships that had enabled the parastatal to transform rapidly within a short space of time.
At Nandi, Arda, in partnership with a private indigenous company Mangwa Quip, has resuscitated irrigation with 150 hectares of formerly fallow land now under sugar cane.
There are plans to double the size of the cane fields at Nandi to 300 hectares in the near future.
Acting President Mnangagwa said Government wanted the Lowveld districts of Mwenezi and Chiredzi to lead the province’s march towards becoming the the country’s breadbasket taking advantage of the availability of flat land and irrigation water from dams and perennial rivers.
He said the two districts could become perennial greenbelts if available water was harnessed for irrigation purposes.
‘’In Mwenezi there is Manyuchi Dam while another dam (Tokwe-Mukosi) that will have potential to irrigate 25 000 hectares will also soon come on stream. We what the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to give priority to these two districts in developing irrigation so that we create a perennial greenbelt. There are also perennially flowing rivers and all this water must be used, and this is a challenge to the people of Masvingo because we cannot continue to import food,’’ he added.
The Acting President said there was nothing wrong with local companies entering into joint ventures with foreign firms to initiate developmental projects in this country saying other countries such as the United Arab Emirates had developed through embracing partnerships between locals and foreigners.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Government was mulling making it mandatory to reserve 25 percent hectarage at every place where there was irrigation for production of cereals.
Acting President Mnangagwa was accompanied on his tour of Nandi Estates by Energy and Power Development Dr Samuel Undenge, Pyschomotor Activities in Education and Vocational Training Minister Josaya Hungwe among other senior Government officials.