Deputy minister of agriculture, Douglas Karoro, has said the drought experienced during the 2021/22 farming season has adversely affected the country’s food security situation.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Chief Director, Strategic Policy Planning and Business Development, Clemence Bwenje, at the commissioning of Mayorca Irrigation Scheme in Silobela, Karoro said the drought has left the country vulnerable to famine.
“In the current 2021/22 season, most parts of the country experienced a late start to the rains and later we had a long dry spell which negatively impacted our efforts to achieve national food security. The Midlands province was not spared from these extreme weather conditions. For Midlands Province, this has been worsened by the fact that part of it lies in natural regions four, which receives sub-optimal rainfall,” he said.
Karoro said the country’s economy is anchored on agriculture, which contributes at least 17% to the GDP, while at the same time supporting 67% of livelihoods of people living in the rural areas.
Government, to achieve food security, launched the Agricultural and Food Systems Transfer, in which one of the key deliverables is sustainable food security anchored on resilient agricultural production and productivity.
“My ministry was mandated to achieving food self sufficiency in 2020 when we were at 45% food self sufficiency. What we want by 2025 is to be at 100% food self sufficiency. That entails us to grow our production to 3 million metric tonnes by 2025,” he said.
In order to achieve food self sufficiency, government said it is not going to rely on rain fed agriculture.
“In this endeavor, we cannot continue to rely on rain fed agriculture while rivers flow into the Zamabezi, while rivers flow into the Limpopo. As a country, we have the potential. We have more than 10 000 small dams and 40 medium dams that are sufficient to irrigate 2 million hectares. We want to continue to grow our area under irrigation from the current 15%, largely because in the last decade, the country has been experiencing changes in weather patterns. The weather patterns are no longer reliable, drought and floods are occurring more frequently,” he said.
As parts of efforts by government to build resilience in rural communities in arid and semi arid areas, government has embarked on a number of climate smart initiatives so as to ensure national food security.
“The focus is on expanding irrigation development and water harvesting under the escalated irrigation rehabilitation and development plan. Under this plan, government is targeting to rehabilitate and develop up to 300 000 hectares by 2025 across the country to safeguard against the vagaries of climate change and ensure national food security.
“The Small Holder Irrigation Revitilisation Programme (SERP) will contribute 6100 hectares on 60 irrigation schemes in Masvingo, Manicaland, Matebeleland South and Midlands. The program began in 2016 and will run until 2023. The program, when it comes to the end in 2023, will see a total of 27 500 farmers expected to benefit,” Karoro said. _*NewZimbabwe*_