Zimbabwe secures US$100m from UN’s IFAD to go towards poverty alleviation projects

ZIMBABWE – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an arm of the United Nation, in collaboration with partners, have committed over US$100 million to go towards poverty alleviation projects in Zimbabwe, reports Business Times.

IFAD has been running projects in Zimbabwe since 2015. It has been targeting irrigation schemes dubbed Smallholder Irrigation and Revitalisation Programme (SIRP).

Under the US$52 million project, the funding institution has embarked on the resuscitation of dormant irrigation schemes around the country.

In the Midlands Province, IFAD, working together with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, is reviving schemes in Kwekwe, Gokwe, Chirumanzu, Zvishavane, Gweru and Mberengwa districts.

“SIRP is our first project in Zimbabwe after a lengthy period of absence and SIRP has a total budget of US$52 million and consists of a loan of US$25 million from IFAD, and co-financing from the OPIC fund (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) and rest from national counterparts,” IFAD country director for Zimbabwe and Eswatini, Jaana Keitaanranta said.

She said that apart from the SIRP, IFAD was set to roll out two more projects targeting to capacitate small scale, communal farmers, on climate change sensitive agriculture and horticulture.

“We have a new programme also getting started, again under the Ministry of Agriculture, and it’s called the Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Programme. It’s in the starting process of recruitment,” Keitaanranta said.

“At the same time, we have also been requested to consider the signing of project number three for the horticulture sector.

“The project is increasing in size and all the projects have become roughly of the same size like SIRP.”

The Smallholder Cluster Agriculture Programme has a total budget of US$67.8 million while US$38 million has been earmarked for the horticulture project, according to IFAD.

The cluster programme would be running in five provinces, namely Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland North and the Midlands.

Keitaanranta said IFAD had put in place various transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure ‘good use of money.’

She further said that ‘grievance mechanisms’ had been instituted while the funds are subjected to an auditing process.

IFAD injected funds to revive Mayorca irrigation scheme, adding that the costs varied from one scheme to the other, according to the IFAD official.

“The needs are different and when we are speaking about the revitalisation, we are not starting from zero and we are building something that we can maintain, for example here (Mayorca) we saw that the walls need to be rebuilt.”

The major developments at the irrigation scheme included the installation of an electricity transformer, rehabilitation of the dam and the installation of a pontoon floating water pump, among other upgrades.

The 76-hectare scheme directly serves at least 76 households, as each farmer has a claim to a one-hectare piece of land.

The agriculture ministry has set the irrigation revitalisation programme as one of its focus areas as rainfall has become erratic due to climate change. Zimbabwe faces a drought as the current dry spell has caused some crops under dryland farming to wilt.

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