Plans by Government to fully exploit Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water for irrigation development to anchor the country’s economic revival programme are going according to plan with an initial 20 000hectares set to be put under irrigation soon using the reservoir’s water.
An unnamed private investor and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority(ARDA) have already been granted authority to develop irrigation using Tugwi-Mukosi water.
The two entities will each develop 10 000ha to produce various crops in a development that will also see thousands of people from communities around the dam benefiting as outgrowers under the two projects.
Tugwi-Mukosi has potential to irrigate 25 000ha and the move by Government to give ARDA and the unnamed private investor to r develop 20 000ha for irrigation means other interested players will only have to settle for the remaining 5 000ha.
Lands, Rural Resettlement, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Retired Chief Air Marshall Perrance Shiri yesterday confirmed an unnamed investor had received the greenlight to develop irrigation at Tugwi-Mukosi.
Speaking during a tour to assess progress in implementing quick win projects at the dam,Rtd Chief Air Marshall Shiri, who also chairs the Interministerial Taskforce on Tugwi-Mukosi, said Government was working flat out for the nation to benefit from the dam.
He said the country’s relevant authorities have okayed plans by a private investor to grow ethanol under irrigation using Tugwi-Mukosi water.
“There is a(unnamed)company that applied for authority to access 10 000ha for irrigation in the Tugwi-Mukosi area and the company wants to grow sugar cane for ethanol production and I am informed that the company must have succeeded in securing that land,” he said.
“The company will produce sugar cane on 6 000ha while outgrowers will be taken on board to also grow cane on the remaining 4000ha that will also go towards ethanol.”
The Cabinet Minister said the development means Tugwi-Mukosi irrigation capacity would be close to being at if ARDA develops another 10 000ha for irrigation around the dam.
“If as we have heard here, ARDA fails to develop their 10 000ha with the expected speed, we will find another developer or developers, all that will be up to the responsible committee but the bottom line is we want our people to start benefiting from this dam.”
Director for Irrigation in the Ministry of Lands, Rural Resettlement, Water, Environment and Climate Dr Conrade Zawe had earlier on revealed that ARDA had been tasked to find suitable partners prepared to develop 10 000ha for irrigation by the parastatal and out-growers at Tugwi-Mukosi.
Dr Zawe an Irrigation Implementation Unit will be formed before the end of this month to pursue the Tugwi-Mukosi project.
“Under the ARDA board has already met and agreed to set up this Unit that will meet local communities to see how best to develop this 10 000ha. There are plans to grow sugar cane, mangoes and oranges and the ARDA scheme,”Dr Zawe said.
He said plans were also afoot for Government to develop standard rural houses fitted with water reticulation systems in areas where people will benefit from Tugwi-Mukosi water.
In response Minister Shiri suggested that development of such houses and water reticulation should not be the burden of central government but the companies that will benefit from the irrigation water.
He reiterated Government’s commitment to make sure the Tugwi-Mukosi master plan was finally produced.
The Minister said his visit was to add impetus to the ongoing anchor project’s while also assessing progress on the ground to identify areas which required attention.
Work on the Tugwi-Mukosi irrigation master plan is progressing well with the consultant having identified 63 000ha in around the dam from where the 25 000ha irrigable land will be demarcated in Chivi, Masvingo and Mwenezi districts.
The consultant also carried soil sampling in Matibi 2 communal lands and Chingwizi to prepare for irrigation development.