Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister, Douglas Karoro, said the prolonged drought experienced in the country during the 2021/22 rain season has negatively affected the country’s food security.
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:
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.
Karoro said agriculture contributes at least 17% to the GDP, while at the same time supporting 67% of the livelihoods of people living in the rural areas.
He said in order for Zimbabwe to attain food self-sufficiency, there is a need for the country to move away from its reliance on rain-fed farming. Said Karoro:
In this endeavour, we cannot continue to rely on rain-fed agriculture while rivers flow into the Zambezi, 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, and drought and floods are occurring more frequently.
Karoro said the Government’s focus is now on expanding irrigation development and water harvesting under the escalated irrigation rehabilitation and development plan.