Mashudu Netsianda in Binga
GOVERNMENT has committed itself to ensuring that no community in the country is left lagging behind in terms of development in line with the devolution thrust as enunciated by President Mnangagwa.

Under the Second Republic, Government is also prioritising the revival of the agricultural sector through the development of irrigation schemes to alleviate food insecurity and poverty particularly in rural communities.

Speaking during a tour to assess progress on the implementation of ongoing works at Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme here yesterday, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga said Government will not tire in ensuring that there is enough food in the country as evidenced by the recently launched Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy. President Mnangagwa launched the programme whose aim is to provide a compass for agriculture in line with Vision 2030.

“As Government, we are working without tiring to revive the agricultural sector as evidenced by the launch of the Agriculture and Food Systems Recovery Strategy by His Excellency President Mnangagwa on August 26, 2020. The strategy aims, among other things, to ensure that we produce enough maize, wheat and soya beans to meet domestic demand and then export surplus,” he said.

“Government is working on reviving the agriculture sector and we are saying no community in Zimbabwe should be seen lagging behind in terms of development. All communities in Zimbabwe that have been lagging behind will be assisted.”

VP Chiwenga said the Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme remains one of the Government’s key priorities. “As I highlighted in my previous visits, the Bulawayo Kraal project is generally aimed at transforming the socioeconomic livelihood of our people as we move towards the attainment of Vision 2030. Specifically, Government intends to transform local communities of Binga from subsistence to commercial farming,” he said.

The Vice-President urged the Binga community to embrace the development plan which Government has formulated to transform livelihoods.

“May I therefore take this opportunity to encourage you the people of Binga to participate in the project, initially as in-growers and later out-growers,” he said.

Already 467 pipes for the mainline linking the engine water pumps from the Zambezi River to the overnight storage dams have been delivered with three centre pivots having been rehabilitated at the scheme. At least 200 hectares of land has been cleared for the summer cropping season.

Already Government has, under the Agriculture Recovery Plan, set aside 100 000 hectares of land, which would be transformed into a greenbelt with an anticipated yield of at least one million tonnes of maize within the next three years.

The massive project, which will be implemented at Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation scheme in Binga, in the lowveld areas of Masvingo and Kanyemba in Mashonaland Central, will be done in phases. It is expected to boost food production and alleviate food shortages in the country largely attributed to recurrent droughts.

Government is roping in the private sector in the programme under which 100 000 hectares of virgin land will be opened up in the three identified provinces.

The programme will also help in cutting imports and accelerate the attainment of Vision2030 goals.

Vice-President Chiwenga said the plan will ensure that the country preserves foreign currency by reducing the food import bill.

“Government proposes to create a maize belt in the lowveld areas of Masvingo, Bulawayo Kraal and Kanyemba through the Agriculture Recovery Plan where the country will be able to have two maize cycles per year under irrigation,” he said.

VP Chiwenga said Government is encouraging smart partnership with the corporate sector.

At Bulawayo Kraal, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has entered into a joint venture with a local private company to put 15 000 hectares of land under food and export crops as well as crocodile farming.

Government has directed Arda and its investment partners to develop 400 hectares at Bulawayo Kraal and take over installed equipment as well as assume the debt/ loan component.

Arda will enter into a 25-year concession agreement with one of the investors at Bulawayo Kraal, creating a guided core estate and in-grower and out-grower scheme.

“The ministry will be responsible for project land allocation and overall supervision of policy guidance on the project. The investor will raise capital for the project which shall be a combination of equity and debt and development of the entire 15 000 hectares of crops and citrus as well as the installation of centre pivot irrigation scheme,” said VP Chiwenga.

So far 200 hectares of land, which have been cleared at Bulawayo Kraal have been put under white sorghum with 965 pipes worth $25 million for the 4km pipeline to the night storage dam having been procured for the project including farming inputs. — @mashnets.