HARARE, April 21 (Xinhua) — Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday said the government is targeting to increase irrigation capacity to at least 300,000 hectares to ensure food security.
Addressing the inaugural maize value chain conference, Mnangagwa said at present only about 160,000 hectares of land was under irrigation, state media New Ziana reported.
“It is the government’s desire to see the country’s farming activities becoming more productive and cost efficient with an irrigable expanded maize crop area of a minimum of at least 300,000 hectares,” he said.
Zimbabwe has many water bodies that has not been fully utilized due to limited financial resources and neglect of existing irrigation facilities.
Agriculture experts have challenged Zimbabwe to exploit its vast irrigation potential to combat the effects of climate change.
Mnangagwa said the completion of Tokwe-Mukorsi dam in southern Masvingo province would add an additional 25,000 hectares to the country’s existing irrigation capacity, and more initiatives were being pursued to add further capacity.
He said it was also important to prioritize farm mechanization, adoption of modern farming methods and development of improved seed varieties.
Zimbabwe has over the past few years seen its agricultural production dropping on the back of changing weather patterns, unreliable rains as well as other production bottlenecks.
In the 2014/15 season, Zimbabwe wrote off about 300,000 hectares out of an estimated 2 million hectares that were planted after crops failure due to sporadic rains leading to a serious deficit that government met through imports.