Preliminary work on the development of a 3 000 hectare greenbelt earmarked for Masvingo East commercial farming heartland by Government, has started with assessment of land for the project now complete.
The planned greenbelt will stretch from east of Pokoteke River to the Ripling Waters area in Bikita and will comprise large-scale commercial farms, model A2 farms and communal farms, creating an expansive greenbelt that will be irrigated using Lake Mutirikwi water.
President Mnangagwa’s administration has been pushing for creation of this greenbelt as part of the ongoing thrust to use idle water bodies to grow food under irrigation to reduce the food import bill which is squeezing government funds.
The envisaged greenbelt has also been incorporated under the greater Lowveld Irrigation Development Master Plan which will be anchored on irrigation development in southern Masvingo using Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water.
President Mnangagwa has been a firm proponent of the mooted Masvingo East greenbelt as it will further consolidate the province’s position as the nation’s irrigation hub.
Provincial Development Coordinator Dr Jefta Sakupwanya yesterday said work on the planned greenbelt had already started.
Dr Sakupwanya said Government had engaged a consultant to assess the area that will be under irrigation.
“Work to develop the planned greebelt that will cover 3 000ha in Masvingo East along a belt stretching from Masvingo to Bikita districts has already started but we are still on the pre-feasibility stage,” said Dr Sakupwanya.
“A government consultant has already finished assessment of the area earmarked for the greenbelt and has given assurance that there is enough land to come up with the 3 000ha that will constutute the greenbelt.”
Dr Sakupwanya said they will be no relocation of families to pave way for the project saying farmers will draw water for irrigation from canals that will be built to convey water across the greenbelt.
“The assessment also looked at the possibility of pumping water from down in Lake Mutirikwi to higher points from where it will be moved to the fields using gravity.”
He said the Masvingo provincial leadership was closely working with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to develop the greenbelt in Masvingo East.
Besides the staple maize crop the greenbelt will also produce cash crops for the export market boosting both nutrition and disposable income for local rrigation farmers.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira has been leading efforts to exploit idle water bodies in the province to produce food in line with Vision 2030.
According to Minister Chadzamira full exploitation of idle water bodies would spur agricultural growth in the province with the net effect of growing the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Masvingo is eyeing a GDP of US$8 billion by 2030 bouyed by vast potential in agriculture,mining and tourism.