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Irrigation project set to boost food basket

THE government is in the next five years planning to invest in irrigation farming covering 11,700 hectares around Ngono River Basin in Kagera Region, a project which will help the country to have enough food reserves.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, Kagera is a strategic region for agriculture because it borders four different neighbouring countries which are potential in agribusiness, “Equally, Kagera region is the main centre for selling different agricultural products in South Sudan,’’ added the deputy minister.

He said that the project proposal had already been drafted and presented to development partners and that discussions to solicit funds for the implementation of the project were still ongoing.

Mr Bashe was responding to a question posed by Muleba South lawmaker, Dr Oscar Kikoyo (CCM), who had demanded to know when the government will capitalise on the Ngono River Basin for irrigation farming.

On the development of that river basin, he said during the 2018/2019, the government conducted a feasibility study which is located around Misenyi and Bukoba Rural districts and found that there were 11,700 hectares of virgin land which could be used in irrigation farming.

“The government has already put robust measures for developing Ngono River Basin by beginning with the construction of Kalebe-Multi-Purpose Dam which has a capacity to preserve about 268 cubic metres that can cover all 11,700 hectors in irrigation farming,’’ he said.

According to the deputy minister, the Kalebe dam is expected, apart from being used for irrigation, to help in generating electricity, producing water for pastoralism, fishing, as well as controlling floods.

In ensuring that various irrigation schemes were completed, the minister noted that currently the government was making sure that all ongoing projects were completed.

He also said the government was currently conducting an assessment on the completed projects to identify all the weaknesses that were causing production inefficiency.

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