ZIMBABWE – Government of Zimbabwe and development partners are set to inject at least US$52 million towards the Small Holder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) targeting rural farmers across the country.

The funds were mobilized from several program funding partners, as well as the Zimbabwean treasury.

SIRP National Project Coordinator, Odreck Mukokera, speaking during the commissioning of Mayorca Irrigation Scheme in Silobela, said the programme, which started in 2016, is aimed at reducing vulnerability for the rural farmers.

“At least US$52.68 million is expected to have been disbursed to the farmers at the end of the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP),” he said.

“This is a government sponsored program, where we are getting support from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the Open Fund for International Development (OFID) and farmers who make the scheme possible.”

Mukokera said the SIRP program was launched in 2016 as a way of reducing vulnerability of smallholder farmers, food and nutrition security, as well as reducing vulnerability to climate change effects and the vulnerability of smallholder farmers from economic shocks, as they contribute to the resilience of smallholder farming communities so as to uplift incomes of rural households.

“Our objective is to have at least 60 irrigation schemes before year end. We then meet the target covering 61000 hectares of irrigated land in four provinces, which are Manicaland, Masvingo Midlands and Matebelaland South,” Mukokera said.

“We expect that over 27 500 people would have benefited from the program, of which 15 000 will be using irrigation. While the rest, though, might not be using irrigation, will instead be benefiting directly from those with irrigation. In addition, we are targeting to support 2000 youths through skills impartation.”

SIRP is further aimed at improving productivity and climate resilient crop production, adopting good agricultural practices, and also climate smart agricultural technologies, and most importantly, for farmers to have access to markets.

Zimbabwe’s current drought and food security issues have remained dire over the past decade, exposing millions of people to food insecurity and poverty despite the fact that Zimbabwe has one of the highest proportions of irrigated land in the region.

Evidence shows that households in smallholder irrigation schemes are better off in terms of food production, income, nutrition and general well-being than those relying on rainfed agriculture.

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