Samuel Kadungure, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday had a hectic programme in Nyanga that saw him officially commission Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme in the morning before addressing a rally at Bumhira Secondary School in the afternoon.
The project, which started in 2015, was funded to the tune of US$15 million under the Japanese Grant Aid.
The department of irrigation under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), were involved in the rehabilitation and development of the facility.
Nyakomba Phase 2 expansion project included construction of new pumping facilities, improving water level control, distribution and flow measurement. New canal structures were built, while the existing ones were modified. An overnight storage pond was also built while pumps and flood protection structures for Blocks B, C and D pump stations that were damaged by floods in 2006 were also repaired and replaced. New irrigation infrastructure was installed on Block A, which has 146ha.
President Mnangagwa said Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme was one of the most critical irrigation schemes in the country whose modernisation would increase productivity following the rehabilitation and expansion works.
“We came here at the invitation of members of Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme. Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri once invited us but we could not make it because of other commitments but this time we have managed to,” said the President while addressing a rally at Bumhira Secondary School later in the day.
Cde Mnangagwa said he had come to Nyakomba specifically to see their work that was targeted to sustain livelihoods.
“When we toured the project, we saw men and women The project is targeting export markets, so I had to see where they produce and process it. They export it to America, where they are paid in US dollars,” he explained.
The President revealed that the farmers had told him that they earn in excess of US$1 000 from produce grown on their 0, 2 hectare pieces of land but they also produce other crops such as maize and cotton under irrigation supported by the Japanese government.
Government, added Cde Mnangagwa, would in the next three years, prioritise construction of dams and drilling of boreholes with a view to put 100 000 hectares under irrigation. This initiative will be implemented in all districts in the country.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa also took the war on coronavirus to the gathering, where he reiterated that Government was taking all necessary precautions against the coronavirus.
“There is an outbreak of the coronavirus disease worldwide, which has seen only a few countries from the African continent remain unaffected. Thousands of people have died, while many others are sick so we have taken measures as a country so that if we record a positive case we will be ready to deal with it. We thank our God that we have not recorded any case of the virus up to now that I might know.
“We were supposed to host the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in April but this disease does not want people to congregate because if one of them is infected, he or she can pass it on to all those that he or she comes into contact with,” he said.
And since ZITF attracts a lot of people, which increases the chances of the disease spreading, Government has seen it fit to move it to a later date other than in April so it will be hosted once the disease is confirmed over, said the President. He also added that the independence celebrations that had been slated for Bulawayo had been shelved.
President Mnangagwa said he had deliberately set March 20 as the date on which his directive for people to avoid gatherings in excess of 100 would come into effect because of yesterday’s event.
“The ban will come into force on Friday (tomorrow) so people can still congregate up to Thursday (today) and not breach the ban hence you have the permission to gather as you have done here today,” said the President.
He took the opportunity to advise people that schools would remain open till the end of the term. He said Government would also distribute the new batch of Zupco buses to provinces to ease transport problems in rural areas.
President Mnangagwa promised to repair all damaged roads and bridges in Chimanimani and Nyanga districts, adding that 33 new buses would be given to civil servants. The President also warned party supporters against the imposition of candidates during the ongoing restructuring exercises.
Cde Mnangagwa later donated laptops (10 per school) to Avilla Secondary School, Regina Coeil Secondary, Nyakomba Secondary, Chatindo Secondary, Bumhura Secondary Schools (all Nyanga), Dewedzo (Makoni), Stirkroem (Chipinge), St David’s Bonda (Mutasa) and Chikuvire Primary School for use under the e-learning initiative.
Schools from Nyanga received 1 000 exercise books and sporting kits.
The President also donated 90 tonnes of rice to Nyanga South and Nyanga North constituencies.