ZIMBABWE: Water from Lake Mutirikwi to be pumped to irrigate farms in Masvingo

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ZIMBABWE: Water from Lake Mutirikwi to be pumped to irrigate farms in Masvingo©Sergei25/Shutterstock

In Zimbabwe, 3,000 hectares of land will be irrigated in Masvingo East, along a green belt stretching through Masvingo and Bikita districts. Water will be pumped from Lake Mutirikwi.

News of the Masvingo Greenbelt Irrigation Project in Zimbabwe. According to the Zimbabwean Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Anxious Masuka, at least 3,000 hectares of farmland will be irrigated from Lake Mutirikwi. This is actually an artificial lake created with the construction of the Kyle Dam on the Mutirikwi River. The dam lake covers an area of 90 km3. Currently, the reservoir is used for irrigation of sugar cane plantations.

The government’s decision comes after the water body southeast of Masvingo overflowed in early 2022. This is the second time that Lake Mutirikwi has been subject to flooding. The first occurred more than 20 years ago, caused by cyclones Eline and Japheth.

Reducing food insecurity

In its first phase, the irrigation project involves the development of a belt that stretches from the vicinity of Mutimurefu, east of Masvingo town, to the commercial farming area of Roy, further east. Water will be transported through constructed canals to the large-scale commercial farms. The project will continue into the Bikita district.

“In addition to the staple crop of maize, the greenbelt will also develop cash crops for the export market, reducing food insecurity and increasing incomes for local farmers,” say Masvingo province authorities. In 2019, drought affected the food security and livelihoods of 45 percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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While the Masvingo Greenbelt land assessment has already been completed, preliminary work continues. The irrigation project is being carried out under the Lowveld Integrated Irrigation Development Master Plan, which aims to irrigate more than 200,000 hectares of land. Water will be pumped from the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, located at Chivi South in Masvingo Province. Commissioned in May 2017, the facility has a reservoir capable of storing 1.8 billion cubic meters of water.

The Masvingo authorities also want to get closer to their goal, to reach by 2030, a gross domestic product (GDP) of 8 billion dollars thanks to a vast agricultural, mining and tourism potential.

Inès Magoum

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