IN a bid to boost agriculture production, the government has managed to increase irrigation areas by 233,715 hectares in the past five years.
Five years ago, there was only 461,000 hectares of irrigation areas countrywide, before it was enlarged to 694,715 by 2020.
The revelation was made at the ongoing 27th Nanenane exhibitions in Bariadi District, Simiyu region by the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC), Acting Director General, Mr Daudi Kaali, adding that there have been improvements in irrigation infrastructures in the country.
“NIRC has been able to rehabilitate 179 irrigation schemes’ infrastructures in a period of five years, most of these were supported through System of Rice Intensification (SRI),” he noted.
He said the National Irrigation Master Plan for 2002 indicated that Tanzania has 29.4 million hectares of land suitable for irrigation, where 2.3 million hectares ranked as high potential, 4.8 million hectares medium potential and 22.3 million hectares low potential.
As of 2015 before the commencement of the Commission, a total of 461,000 hectares had been developed for irrigation.
Mr Kaali further said the main objective of the Commission was to develop irrigation agriculture based on the efficient use of resources that is productive and sustains production for the development of the national economy.
The Director said out of the schemes built and renovated, 56 schemes have been completed and would soon be launched.
Commenting on the contribution of irrigation to the country's food security from 2015-2020, NIRC Acting Head of Compliance and Quality Assurance, Eng Daniel Manase said the sector contributed 24 per cent.
“For proper nourishment of crops a certain amount of water is required, if rains are insufficient there will be deficiency of the required water for irrigation. Thus, irrigation comes in to rescue the situation,” he noted
Eng Manase further said irrigation improves yields of crops and ensures prosperous lives among farmers.
NIRC Acting Director for Research Eng Gregory Chigwiye said for the next five years 2020-2025 the plan available would be to build irrigation infrastructure to reach the area of up to 1,000,000 hectares.
He added that the Commission has strategic projects which are set for improving agriculture sector, citing some of the projects as Lwiche River Basin in Kigoma and the rehabilitation of about 384 irrigation schemes nationwide.
He said the Commission has also set up a consulting company with the aim of ensuring standard and quality in the implementation of projects.
NIRC budget for the 2019/2020 financial year amounted to 37.48bn/- out of the total ministry’s budget which is 253.85bn/-.
The Commission is charged with coordination, promotion and regulatory functions in the development of the irrigation sector. It has developed comprehensive guidelines to manage irrigation schemes countrywide.
The commission, among other things, promotes integrated water resources management for increased and sustainable agricultural production, ensuring food security, poverty reduction and national economic development in the country.