Kiyapili Sibanda, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE and Kuwait have signed a $20 million loan agreement to finance Zhove irrigation project in Beitbridge, Matabeleland South.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa and the deputy director general of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Mr Hamad Al-Omar, signed the deal at a ceremony in Harare. The project, upon completion, would benefit more than 5 000 households in the targeted areas.
Zhove irrigation project aims to improve the irrigation infrastructure in the Mtetengwe and Masera communal lands in order to increase agricultural productivity and contribute to the achievement of food security in the area.
“The project aims to support the economic and social development in the Ferguson, Bishopstone and Cawood ranches, Mtetengwe, Mabidi and Malala communal lands in Beitbridge through the supply of adequate and sustainable water from Zhove dam to irrigate about 2 500 hectares of land under citrus, sugar beans, tomatoes, groundnuts, among others,” said Minister Chinamasa in a statement on Sunday.
The total cost of the Zhove irrigation project is estimated at $35.7 million and the Kuwait Fund is providing $20 million with the Government of Zimbabwe contributing $7 million. The balance of $8.7 million is set to come from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
Minister Chinamasa welcomed the loan agreement saying it was the answer to the country’s periodic droughts that hamper efforts to achieve food security.
“Let me extend my profound gratitude for this assistance, which is in line with Government’s policy to eradicate poverty and improving food security as enunciated in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IPRSP) and the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset),” said Minister Chinamasa.
His counterpart, Mr Al-Omar expressed Kuwait’s commitment to supporting Zimbabwe, noting that this is the sixth loan the fund is extending to the country and the previous loans amounted to about $59 million that were channelled towards roads, transportation and agriculture sectors.