Richard Muponde Gwanda Correspondent
THE government is mulling temporarily taking over unproductive irrigation schemes from plot holders who are finding it difficult to produce crops to feed the nation, a senior official has said.
The deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Livestock, Cde Paddy Zhanda, told heads of government departments and civil servants in Gwanda on Wednesday that the takeover would last until such a time food security stabilised in the country.
The deputy minister was in the province to assess the effects of drought.
He said the irrigation schemes should be taken over by government as a way of enhancing food production.
“Although it’s going to be difficult, we should put aside the unproductive plot holders and say to them let us crop here and produce. We will feed you while you’re seated at home until such a time that the country attains food security.
The irrigation schemes should be under a production manager not an extension officer because there is no binding agreement which is there,” said Cde Zhanda.
He said agriculture should be looked at as a business, not as a way of life, to allow irrigation schemes to pay for water and electricity bills.
“Let’s change the template and takeover non-productive irrigation schemes. Plot holders should be given produce while at home.
“Let’s take command of the projects and produce for the country. We should not always blame the executive. The executive is trying its best,” Cde Zhanda said.
He said Matabeleland South should focus more on rearing livestock and take it as a business.
“We don’t encourage farming of maize in Matabeleland but livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep and chicken.
“It’s unfortunate that Matabeleland South lost a lot of cattle together with Masvingo and Chipinge. My idea is to mitigate total loss. So our people should be encouraged to destock. It’s better to sell two beasts to take care of one than to lose both of them,” said Cde Zhanda.
Most irrigation schemes in the country are facing a variety of problems which affected production. Some are battling challenges of obsolete equipment and failure to settle water and electricity bills leading to supplies being cut.