Let’s climate proof agriculture: Ncube

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube says Zimbabwe’s agriculture must be climate proofed so that it depends more on irrigation than weather patterns.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Ncube said this recently in the Senate during debate on the Finance (No. 3 Bill) on the 2020 budget.

He said in order to climate proof agriculture, there was need to invest more on irrigation, adding that a budget of $500 million was allocated towards that. In 2020, Ncube allocated $11,3 billion towards agriculture.

“We have set aside a budget of the order of $500 million for irrigation because we wish to climate proof our agriculture,” Ncube said.

“We have also set aside a budget of the order of $250 million to deal with dam construction, but also to acquire meteorological equipment for us to track weather patterns. Everyone knows that the drought has been severe and it has depressed agriculture by as much as 18% of gross domestic product (GDP) and overall GDP of minus 6,5%,” he said.

The Finance minister said financing agriculture could be through partnering with banks, and also crowd sourcing in the private sector.

“To achieve this we need to deal with the issue of the 99-year leases which have not been accepted by banks,” he said.

Rejoice Timire (Senator representing people with disabilities) then asked Ncube to explain what he will do to ensure that there is enough water in the country to support agriculture.
“Dams are a long term relief to irrigation, but Zimbabwean people are suffering because there is no water. Women are suffering because they are getting water from faraway places. Even in urban areas there are long queues of people trying to look for water,” Timire said.

Ncube said to alleviate water problems, the 2020 budget allocates $233 million to the District Development Fund (DDF) for the purpose of drilling boreholes, mainly in the rural areas.
“We have another budget for about $45 million for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to do likewise because they have different capacities. Zinwa is capacitated to drill deeper boreholes, especially in the drier areas, but we are aware that the Chinese have also given us aid for drilling boreholes where they pay contractors to drill boreholes,” he said.

On perennial water crisis in the urban areas, Ncube said: “In the budget we have allocated resources for chemicals and for upgrading the infrastructure in the urban areas,” adding that some of the devolution resources must focus on funding water and sanitation.

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