TZ taps irrigation potential

  • Samia’s vision lauded 
  • NIRC swiftly responds to her directives

TANZANIA : NATIONAL Irrigation Commission (NIRC) has started implementing President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s directives of drawing water from Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa for irrigation.

Addressing the public during the climax of Famers’ Day (Nanenane) celebrations on Tuesday, President Samia directed the Ministry of Agriculture to consider drawing water from major lakes for irrigation to enable farmers to harvest twice a year.

“God has blessed us with Lakes Victoria, Nyasa and Tanganyika… If we use the water from these lakes for agricultural irrigation, it will not harm the fish or reduce the water level…It is time, you look at the possibility of drawing water from the lakes to be used for irrigation, so that farmers can harvest twice a year,” she said.

The Head of State further noted that other countries are using their lakes effectively as sources of irrigation, despite the existence of regional agreements and hence, called upon experts to plan on the use of lake water for agricultural transformation.

She added that the government allocated 29.4 million hectares suitable for irrigated agriculture, where currently 727,280 hectares are in use, while 28.6 million hectares still need to be developed.

The president also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to charge fees at the irrigation schemes that have been completed, noting that the money collected will be used to maintain and build other projects.

At the same time, Dr Samia launched the drilling of 67,800 water wells for small farmers in the country.

Earlier in April tabling the 2023/24 budget proposal for the Prime Minister’s Office in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said a total of 31 contracts worth 282.14bn/- for construction and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes were executed during the financial year 2022/23.

The contracts included construction of eight new dams, 13 schemes while rehabilitating 17 others.

Mr Majaliwa said the initiative has increased the area size of the irrigation scheme from 727,280 hectares in the year 2021/22 to 778,210.6 hectares this year.

Reached for a comment on that in an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’ yesterday, Director General of NIRC, Raymond Mndolwa, said the designing of structures to pipe water from Lake Victoria for irrigation has already started.

He revealed that the process was initially there, but following the instructions of the Head of State, the commission resumed with full throttle and at Lake Nyasa and Tanganyika similar tasks will begin with immediate effect.

“The commission has started designing the structures of the irrigation plan in valleys around Lake Victoria including those of Bugwena, Mtongono, Simiyu and Sengerema and now they are planning to start the work at Lake Tanganyika and Nyasa,” he pointed out.

Mr Mndolwa added that the farmers near the lakes will use the water for irrigation at the designated points and at the same time, drilling of wells for small farmers will also continue.

In quick analysis, analysts have hailed the vision of President Samia of drawing water from the lakes for irrigation, terming the project wise and timely.

An economist-cum-investment banker, Dr Hildebrand Shayo said the irrigation industry is an important driver of economic activity because it contributes immensely to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Tanzania.

“I do agree with Dr Samia’s directives that investments in efficient irrigation products, technology and services will lead to significant cost savings associated with water use for consumers in Tanzania and this will increase and bring benefits associated with efficient irrigation,” he said.

Dr Shayo noted that in today’s world economy, implementing efficient irrigation practices is a sound economic investment for consumers.

“Around the world, the irrigation associations in most nations believe that the irrigation industry is a growing and significant contributor to the economic growth, which I do believe is the vision of President Samia,” he added.

He further noted that an overall increase in smallholder commercial irrigation and adoption of new irrigation technologies in Tanzania is going to provide new opportunities for increasing agricultural productivity and incomes especially for farmers.

“Irrigation can lead to a reduction in crop-production risk and provide greater incentives to increase input use, increase crop yields, intensify crop production and diversify into higher-valued crops,” Dr Shayo stated.

On his part, Vertex International Securities Advisory and Capital Markets Manager, Ahmed Nganya said that due to climate change, the use of water from the lakes will help to have a reliable supply of water to farmers for irrigation.

He said farmers have been depending on rain seasons and now the use of irrigation will support farmers to continue producing in abundance and in turn, contribute significantly to GDP.

“Farmers in the country have been dependent on rain, but with the introduction of irrigation using water from the lakes will support them to enhance yields and contribute to the gross domestic product,” he said.

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