A government minister has said prospects of economic recovery are hinged on the agricultural sector.
Speaking at the Midlands Winter Wheat Crop field day in Kwekwe Friday, Agriculture deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos said in the face of recurrent droughts and erratic rainfall currently bedevilling the country, there was need to revitalise the country’s irrigation schemes.
“Government is committed to providing an enabling environment to ensure quick recovery of the irrigation schemes and the Ministry has come up with an Agricultural Recovery Plan which focuses on reversing the declining production trends of wheat, soya beans and maize,” he said.
He explained the recovery plan should be informed by that crop and livestock production are vulnerable to climate change.
“The recovery plan seeks to take advantage of the abundant water bodies to climate proof the agriculture sector.
“The existing water bodies have potential to irrigate over 2 000 000 hectares of which only 216 000 ha are equipped with irrigation infrastructure, however, only 174 500 ha are functional,” he said.
Government, the minister said, desires to develop all the available land that is within reasonable reach of the water to optimise the benefits of such public infrastructure investments.
“The agriculture sector, being the backbone of the economy, underpinning economic growth, food security and poverty eradication programmes, has been experiencing severe challenges within its entire value chain, ranging from recurrent droughts, erratic rainfall patterns, lack of adequate financing and affordable inputs.
“It is no secret that the recovery of the economy depends on the recovery of agriculture,” he said.
Currently, government is implementing irrigation rehabilitation programmes under various facilities.
“The government is keen to improve agriculture and enhance productivity through smallholder irrigation as one of the key strategies for alleviating poverty and improving the livelihoods of rural communities,” he said.