Hichilema fast-tracks dam construction to boost irrigation

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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has directed the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) to expedite approvals for dam construction across the country. 

This initiative aims to improve water harvesting and promote irrigation farming in response to the recent drought.

“it’s a presidential order that dams that have been on the application tables or consideration tables for so long, Lusemfwa upper, Mkushi river dam Apa, and many other dams, will be approved by ZEMA and WARMA without any delay,” President Hichilema directed during the launch of the early maize harvest in Mkushi Farm Block yesterday.

He however highlighted the importance of following environmental regulations throughout the approval process.

The President stressed the urgency of water harvesting to bolster irrigation and national food security.

“We must get into early-maize production so (that) we can bring maize onto the market as early as possible,” President Hichilema said.

He reiterated the national budget review, tax and levy waivers on irrigation and faming equipment as a Government measure to support the faming sector amidst the drought.

Stewart Parks, a commercia farmer and owner of Sadot Farm pledged to help and support emerging farmers to navigate through irrigation faming and the current drought.

“Despite the challenges the harvest shall be fruitful for us all,” Parks added.

Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU)  President, Jervis said the drought situation was a turning point from the country’s rain dependent agriculture to irrigation.

Meanwhile, Agriculture minister, Mtolo Phiri said government would increase products in the agriculture credit window to include; fertiliser and seed, money for irrigation and farm power (mechanisation).

Phiri also highlighted Government support for people in livestock and aquaculture.

President Hichilema further said Government was going to work with banks in order to enforce the insurance risk policies meant to cushion the effects of the drought so that farmers and banks can survive.

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