Zimbabwe

Underutilised irrigations to go, says minister

Dr Anxious Masuka

Freedom Mupanedemo

Midlands Bureau

Members of irrigation schemes who fail to use their irrigated land as productive farms will be removed and replaced by those willing and with the capacity to do so.

A Statutory Instrument to support the plan is expected soon.

Government has budgeted $57 million for the rehabilitation of State irrigation schemes across the country and wants this expensive infrastructure to be fully used by productive farmers.

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Last year, Government instructed beneficiaries of the land reform to submit production returns for their farms by the end of this month, otherwise the farms would be repossessed and allocated to those who could use the land productively.

Multiple farm owners and those not producing also risk losing farms, but productive farms, even though they exceed the stipulated maximum farm sizes for each ecological zone, will be saved.

Over 200 000 people are on waiting lists for Government farms and the authorities are confident they can replace those not using their land with people able and willing to farm.

In an interview on the sidelines of a tour of Insukamini Irrigation Scheme in Lower Gweru on Wednesday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the policy of “use it or lose it” did include irrigation schemes.

“The Government has come up with a Statutory Instrument on irrigable land that will see it repossessing underused land in irrigation schemes. The farms will be reallocated to those showing capacity and potential,” said Dr Masuka.

At every scheme, his ministry was looking at viability and productivity. Once a scheme is rehabilitated, members should take it upon themselves to make sure they make it sustainable.

“There is about $57 million that has been set aside to revive the existing irrigation schemes across the country. What this means is that we are not going to come up with new schemes but rather work on the existing ones. What therefore this means is that those on the existing schemes and are failing to be productive will be moved out and we put in new farmers who are serious to turn farming into a business so that agricultural production can rise and play a pivotal role in the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030,” he said.

Dr Masuka commended farmers who had increased productivity, which he said was the key to economic development.

He commended Insukamini Irrigation Scheme for being productive. The irrigation scheme, which has 150 members, is one of the best performing in the country.

It scooped first prize at the 2019 National Irrigation Competition, winning $30 000, a trophy and seed maize from seed companies.

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“Anyone who is on a scheme like this is privileged and these members are privileged because there are many more Zimbabweans who do not have this privilege.

“So if you are privileged you must convert this privilege to improve productivity, the yield per hectare.

“Should we find that you are reluctant to improve production, productivity and profitability, we will evoke the statutory instrument on irrigable land to evict you from the scheme and invite so many other Zimbabweans who want to be involved in this privilege,” he said.

Government seeks to transform over 370 000 farmers into viable agricultural entrepreneurs, converting families now in poverty to productive income earners, thus both boosting national wealth and spreading that wealth among some of the poorest households.

It also plans to transform the 18 000 A2 farmers into agricultural entrepreneurs and their farms becoming viable businesses by 2025.

HERALD