Patrick Chitumba, Head of Midlands Office
The re-engagement efforts of the Second Republic continue to bear fruit with an international financial institution, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which has committed an envelope of more than 100 million US dollars to revive the country’s agricultural sector.
There is also part of the package from the Norwegian government and other supporting partners for the revival of irrigation systems and agricultural programs such as horticulture.
IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Rome. IFAD has already released $51.6 million for the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalization Program (Sirp) and part of the funds has been dedicated to the rehabilitation of the Mayorca irrigation system in Zhombe, in the province of the Midlands, as well as the Silalabuhwa and Guyu irrigation schemes in Matabeleland South, among others. programs.
IFAD is committing to set aside over US$60 million for the Smallholder Cluster Farming Scheme, which includes horticulture, in five provinces which will include the Midlands and Matabeleland North among others.
In an interview after visiting the relaunched Mayorca Irrigation Project in Zhombe yesterday, IFAD Country Director for Eswatini and Zimbabwe, Ms Jaana Keitaanranta, said the financial institution has other projects in the pipeline. for the country as she sought to partner with the government in eradicating poverty in the communities.
“As IFAD we are a financial institution and Sirp is our first project in Zimbabwe in a long period of absence and Sirp has a total of 52 million dollars.
The time we stopped (funding) was when Zimbabwe was in arrears with most financial institutions, but then my institution had a debt settlement plan with the government of Zimbabwe.
The debt settlement was accomplished and paid for and so that’s when we started treating Zimbabwe like any other country. This is when Sirp was terminated after the debt settlement plan,” she said.
Ms. Keitaanranta said IFAD is ready to support Zimbabwe through various financing models for the agricultural sector.
“The problem has been solved and we have looked at how we can support the country in addition to macro-projects, because in addition we have micro-projects that we want to finance.
We have a grant from the Norwegian government for nutrition programs in the country. So we have many projects in sight for the country. We already have 52 million US dollars running under Sirp.
Ms. Keitaanranta said they have a new program starting under land, agriculture, fisheries, water and rural development called the Group Farming Program for Smallholders.
“The program is still in the early days of recruitment so has not yet started but will be funded at approximately US$60 million and at the same time we have been asked to consider signing on for project number three for the horticulture sector, so the program is growing in size and it will be the same size as Sirp,” she said.
Ms. Keitaanranta said she was pleased with the progress of the Mayorca irrigation project, saying members were mature, motivated and eager to see the project grow.
“Because of Covid-19, I was unable to visit the project and was only following the reports I received. But now I see a lot of progress and I think in the months to come there will be even more progress.
I think the sustainability of irrigation systems is very important because some irrigation systems have failed in the past or members failed to maintain them and I think this operation is on the way because they are putting money aside that will be used for repairs and maintenance of the living irrigation system and that is very important,” she said.
At the Mayorca Irrigation Project, more than USD 900,000 was spent on rehabilitating the section of the broken dam wall, constructing a spillway, rock riprap for slope protection and grassing, the installation of a transformer and the installation of two pumps on a floating pontoon, among other developments. .
The 76 ha irrigated perimeter became green this year thanks to IFAD funding. The scheme has 76 members who each own 1 ha.
Of the 76 beneficiaries, 18 are women, 58 are men and each farmer has an acre in his name. Mr. Naison Mauka, the secretary of the irrigation system, said they were looking forward to a change of fortune after the system was revived.
“This place is relatively in a dry region. As you can see, most crops in the fields are under water stress. Our hope is now with irrigated crops. We are very happy that our program is now operational. We haven’t used our water for irrigation for years. It’s a life-changing experience,” he said.
The Mayorca irrigation system, which ceased operations in 2007 after flooding broke the dam wall and vandalized power lines, became operational in January following government intervention in partnership with the IFAD.