By Reason Dube
GOVERNMENT has committed US$52, 1 million for the rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation schemes throughout the country with 14 irrigation schemes set to benefit in Masvingo province.
In his US5,1 billion 2018 National Budget Statement presented in Harare last week Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa underscored the need for the country to build on the previous gains accrued in attaining food security through increased production.
“The gains we have achieved in attaining food security under the Special Maize Production Programme through increased production and productivity by harnessing our irrigation potential and optimal utilisation of existing idle water bodies,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“In this regard, the budget has an allocation of US$52,1 million for irrigation rehabilitation targeting 200 hectares per each district .This will be implemented annually for the next ten years. This should also create the necessary resilience to rainfall variability, critical for food self-sufficiency,” he said.
He said a special committee will be set to oversee the success of the ambitious programme which will be heavily supported by the country’s development partners.
“The budget will also allocate US$2,7 million for project development activities on the US$35,7 million Zhove Irrigation project se to be funded by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Through the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, FAO will also disburse US$3, 4 million towards 14 irrigation schemes in Masvingo province.
“The small holder irrigation revitalisation project, co-funded by International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), OFID and Government will disburse US$6,9 million . This is meant for the revitalisation and expansion of Musikavanhu in Manicaland, Sebasa, Chikwalakwala, Exchange and Rupungwana irrigation schemes,” he said.
He also said FAO with the support from European Union will disburse US$2 million for ongoing works at 20 irrigation schemes in Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces.
“An amount of US$3, 3 million will also be disbursed by the Japanese International Cooperation for ongoing works at Nyakomba Project Block A.”
The national budget statement presented under the “New Economic Order” theme has been widely commended as reflective of a new trajectory and pragmatic enough to deal with challenges facing the country.
The main highlights among many were: the abolishing of 3 700 posts for youth officers and retiring of civil servants above the age of 65 years starting January 2018. This among other cocktail measures to reduce government expenditures will go a long way in retaining confidence in the country’s economy.