MUTARE — Revival of collapsed irrigation schemes is the only panacea to addressing the food shortage crisis bedevilling several parts of Manicaland province, a government official said last week.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Manicaland provincial administrator, Fungai Mbetsa said that the food situation in the province was dire.
In areas of the province, he said, villagers had resorted to disposing their cattle, which is their only treasured wealth, to buy maize meal as the crisis worsens.
“We need to be frank, the food situation is not pleasing,” said Mbetsa. “We need to revamp the irrigation schemes across the province. Manicaland can be self-sustaining. Nyanyadzi is now a dying growth point because of failure by government and every one of us to procure and install pumps into Odzi River.”
With most of its equipment installed in the 1970s, Nyanyadzi irrigation scheme in Chimanimani district is one of the oldest in the country and had been a source of livelihood for several families before it collapsed due to lack of maintenance.
The latest Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee (Zimvac) report says 15% of 209 364 households in the province was in a critical situation.
The most affected areas include Nyanga North, Mutare, Chipinge, Makoni, Buhera, and Chimanimani where villagers continue to survive on food hand-outs from donor agencies and the government.
Mbetsa lamented that the World Food Programme (WFP) assistance, which was benefitting mostly those on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), ended in March this year, leaving thousands in desperation.
He said government must stop dolling food hand-outs and embark on programmes that ensure self-reliance, especially revamping irrigation schemes.
Agriculture experts said government should also take a leaf from a scheme being run by Organisation for International Migration (IOM) and WFP at Masocha-Chisangaurwi in Chipinge.
Raphius Mazhambe, a beneficiary of the irrigation scheme, said the programme had made him self-reliant.
Before the establishment of the irrigation scheme, Mazhambe and other villagers in the area used to rely on food hand-outs from donor agencies and government.
“I am very grateful that I can now fend for my family because I can farm on my two hectares throughout the year,” he said. “I also sell surplus and raise funds to pay fees for my children, as well as medical care.”
WFP public information officer, Tomson Phiri said irrigation schemes were part of their broad based strategy to promote self-reliance among villagers.