THE Japan International Cooperation Agency has extended a $15 million grant to Zimbabwe, the first substantial commitment in 15 years, for the development of the 674 hectares Nyakomba irrigation scheme in Nyanga.
JICA is an agency that coordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan.
It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries, and promotion of international cooperation.
Speaking at the signing ceremony yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government is pleased that Japan has resumed support towards the development of the Nyakomba irrigation scheme.
“The intervention by the government of Japan will assist in reducing the adverse impact of climate change, restore damaged irrigation infrastructure and develop new irrigation infrastructure for A1 and A2 farmers for Block A in Nyakomba. 861 smallholder farmers are expected to benefit.
“In this regard the signing of this grant agreement has come at an opportune time. The country’s agricultural sector has been reliant on rain and such an agreement is expected to play a fundamental role in the development of irrigation farming in the country,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Nyakomba irrigation project is expected to commence in 2016 and will also focus on the construction of irrigation facilities in Block A, which will cover 138 hectares. The works involve construction of pump facilities, pipeline, irrigation canal, farm pond and drainage systems.
The project will also involve the replacement and repairing of the pump and flood protection structure for existing irrigation facilities in Block B,C and D which were damaged by floods during the period 1997-2000.
Over the period 1997-2000 the Japanese government funded Phase 1 of the irrigation development for Nyakomba irrigation scheme for a cost of approximately $51.8 million.
Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Yoshi Tendai Hiraishi said the grant signing can be marked as a realisation of the resumption of substantive bi-lateral economic corporation between Zimbabwe and Japan.
“Today’s signing marks the resumption of our re-engagement of bi-lateral economic corporation with Zimbabwe which gives additional significance to this occasion.
“The signing is a result of an official request from the Government of Zimbabwe in 2012 and is the culmination of lengthy detailed technical studies between JICA and the Department of Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. We are pleased that these studies resulted in such a fruitful outcome,” said Ambassador Hiraishi.
He said actual implementation is scheduled to commence in December this year and expected to be completed by March 2018.
“Once completed we hope this irrigation scheme will act as an exemplary scheme to be emulated by other parts of the country,” said Ambasador Hiraishi.