The Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme hosted the first policy consultative workshop in November, which will guide the formulation of a National Soil and Water Conservation Policy. The policy is expected to guide the protection of water bodies and land. The consultative workshop, led by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development was a precursor to other workshops that would be held countrywide. The draft policy is expected to be complete by August 2023.
The policy aims to ensure a sustainable, resilient and diverse agricultural sector to ensure food and nutrition security.
Speaking at the workshop, the Chief Director responsible for Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation, Engineer Edwin Zimhunga emphasized the importance of land management and protection. “Government is transforming agriculture through land management and all stakeholders in the agricultural sector have been invited to map the way and come up with a national policy on water and a soil conservation policy”, he said.
SIRP Programme Coordinator, Mr Odreck Mukorera noted the importance of a water and soil conservation policy for the programme, which is implementing an irrigation revitalization programme targeting 28 500 farmers in Manicaland, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South. He said, “The policy that Government is trying to develop is critical for the country and farmers as well.it will assist us to curtail losses that we are having in terms of water bodies which are critical for climate proofing our agriculture. Because we are developing irrigation schemes dependent on this water, we believe farmers should know the measures to put in place when cultivating particular crops.”
University of Zimbabwe academic, Professor Hudson Makurira who heads the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment urged university students to contribute to environmental protection through embarking on varied academic projects. He also urged stakeholders to look at water and soil conservation quality and land use practices.
Land degradation in the country is currently caused by mining, urban expansion, industrialization. Damage to wetlands, stream bank cultivation and deforestation significantly contribute to environmental degradation.
The workshop was attended by officials from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, farmer’s unions, Zimparks, academia, engineers, local authorities, development partners and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).