Zimbabwe is in Need of Irrigation Investment for its Agriculture Industry
By admin May 1, 2015

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After experiencing floods in December and January last year, Zimbabwe is now suffering from a dry spell. One of the most severe consequences was the crop failure declared by the government this March. It was the time that farmers should have been harvesting maize. However, in some parts of Zimbabwe affected by the drought the most, more than 75% of crops were lost. Ironically, Zimbabwe welcomed heavy rainfalls starting from late March into April, which was too late to save the harvest.

At the same time, the country is facing a tough situation in terms of its irrigation system and agricultural infrastructure. For example, existing dams are old and not functioning well enough. Obviously, there is a gap between the intense need of a well-established rainwater harvesting, irrigation systems and the current situation of infrastructure. As a result, the Zimbabwean government will begin to rethink the issue and try to seek outside assistance to address this problem.

However, since the government has been in trouble with its financial situation for a long time, the budget received by the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry was cut from $391 million last year to $174 million this year, making the support from external funding more necessary.

Currently, both European Union and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have been involved in helping with repairing and upgrading the irrigation system in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, this assistance is far from enough. According to the agriculture ministry, FAO was only able to provide assistance on 10 out of 113 irrigation assistance projects in 2014. Besides, only improving irrigation infrastructure might not be enough to address the problems with food insecurity. Initiatives to monitor the climate more precisely could also largely help the agricultural industry to face the challenge of extreme weather.

Zimbabwe is not the only African country that suffers from extreme weather. The floods that have been affecting Southern Africa since December last year have caused great damage in the agricultural industries of Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique, as well as, Zimbabwe. According to the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Dr. Lawrence Stergomena Tax in the SADC meeting held in Zimbabwe in March, “The food security situation in the region is expected to be less that satisfactory during the 2015/16 marketing year as a result of poor rains in most parts of the region, dry spells in some areas, and floods in other areas”.

Since agriculture is the backbone of most Southern African economies, a crisis in agricultural industry would negatively affect citizen’s standard of living and the dynamics of the entire regional economy. Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the region should seek innovative ways to adapt to the weather patterns. Besides making efforts to obtain foreign funding, SADC itself will also invest internally to help member states with their infrastructure development.

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