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Rehabilitation of canals is important for the facilitation of water transport and irrigation in places like Western Province.

Irrigation dams a sure way to boost agriculture

THE realisation that the future of the country lies in agriculture is now moving a step further with the construction of dams to support irrigation activities.
One such project is the Mwomboshi dam construction project, which President Lungu launched in Chisamba yesterday.
The launch of the project is a sign of the words being put into action for the benefit of the communities in Chisamba district.
The Mwomboshi dam is expected to be the largest dam in the history of the agriculture sector. It will have a capacity of 65 million cubic metres of water and a dam wall measuring 1,700 metres long and 23 metres high. At its full capacity, the dam will cover a distance of about 10 kilometres.
Recently, Government came up with a three-point plan to ensure food security and among them is to encourage farmers to venture into irrigated maize production.
The need to venture into agriculture has become a reality in our country, which has experienced a partial drought this year. The effects of climate change, on the other hand, have left disaster in areas like Southern Province where the rainfall pattern has been very poor.
In coming up with alternatives such as irrigation, Government is only doing its part by putting up dams that would provide water to both commercial and small-scale farmers whose activities beef up the food stocks of the country.
For most of the time, our farmers depend on rain-fed crops so that their cycle of cultivation becomes predictable. Their activities are heightened during the rainy season and they are at their lowest in the dry season.
This practice tends to result into an unstable food security as any disturbance in the rainfall pattern would result in lower harvests.
The setting up of dams in selected places in the country is aimed at ensuring that farmers are kept busy throughout the year. While they produce food, the yields will also benefit their households with income for other use.
The setting up of dams should not only be seen in crop cultivation but also as a venture that supports other forms of agriculture like animal husbandry, aquaculture and poultry.
As the President said during the launch of the dam in Mwomboshi, we expect that the farmers will see this as an opportunity to prove to Government that they are more than equal to the task.
The setting up of such dams around the country will open up other opportunities for development in those areas. We know that farmers need access to markets in form of roads while their areas will grow in economic activity.
Apart from the economic activities, there will be other accompanying social amenities that will grow around those areas and if this is not development, then we wonder what it is.
Like we have said before, agriculture is now the way for the country to go and we expect everyone to follow in the example that Government is showing through the various projects it is putting in place.
Even in agriculture, there are other methods that can be relied on, like irrigation, and the dams will help to harvest some of the rain and keep the water for use on a rainy day.
We can only urge Government to expedite this project so that a number of areas in the country have dams to support irrigation activities.
With this thrust by Government, there should be a deliberate effort to open up idle land so that those who are serious about teaming up with Government in boosting agriculture can do so.