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National Irrigation Giant Schemes

Momboshi, Lusitu and Musakashi are now household names synonymous with the irrigation subject in Zambia.

This is because of the programme of constructing of irrigation schemes in the three sites located in Chisamba, Chirundu and Mufulira districts respectively.

Zambia’s agriculture sector is set for a major boost once the construction of the irrigation schemes in the three districts is completed.

The irrigation schemes, financed by the US$115 World Bank through the Irrigation Development Support Project (IDSP) under the Ministry of Agriculture, are earmarked to benefit over 14, 000 farmers in the three districts.

Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said in an interview that the irrigation development in the three districts is one of World Bank largest project undertakings in Zambia.

Mr. Katambo said works in the sites have advanced with all the three irrigation schemes expected to be operational by mid-2020.

“There is tremendous progress in the development of the irrigation schemes, which will encompass large and small holding agriculture ventures,” Mr. Katambo said.

In Chisamba, Momboshi area, the 1.7 kilometers long dam wall has been constructed at cost of USD$31 million.

The contractor, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC) of China completed the construction of Momboshi Dam 8 months ahead of schedule, and was commissioned by President Edgar Lungu in December 2018.

With the capacity to hold about 61 million cubic liters of water sufficient to irrigate over 6,000 hectares, Momboshi dam is set to be become the country’s biggest irrigation dam covering the distance of about 12 kilometers.

Mr. Katambo explained that the potential area for irrigation is 7, 000 hectares, but the actual planned for irrigation are 5, 500 hectares, meaning that there is room for expansion in future in case more people venture into irrigation.

The Irrigation scheme according to Mr. Katambo is earmarked to benefit 728 household and 7, 000 individual farmers

He said; “230 housing units have been built and some have already been occupied by the beneficiaries.”

The minister disclosed that construction of the irrigation scheme worth USD$16 Million in Momboshi is now set to start as the contract has been awarded to the AFECC, the same contractor who constructed the dam, and that contract documents have already been signed.

“Initially the contract to construct Momboshi irrigation scheme was given to Lamasat International Limited, but they later wrote back indicating that they were not able to construct, so we went into negotiations to terminate the contract and so it has been terminated,” he explained.

He said that; “government has awarded the contract to the AFECC because they already on sight, and looking for someone else it would have been cumbersome.

“The advantage is that they do not need to mobilize because they are already mobilized as they are already on site.

“They are ready to start now and they have assured us that they will complete it in no time because the managed to finish the dam 8 months ahead of schedule, that is almost a year ahead of schedule.

“On the contract the duration 16 months, meaning around October 2020 they must be through, but they are assuring us that they will manage to finish works way before the 16 months.”

For Musakashi in Mufulira, there are about 2, 800 hectares with potential for irrigation with 1, 200 hectares actual planed for in the scheme to benefit about 382 households and 4, 088b individual farmers.

Mr. Katambo explained that 113 housing units have been constructed and are already occupied by beneficiaries.

It is designed in way that water to will be pumped direct from Kafue River into a storage facility and subsequently into the irrigation scheme.

The agriculture minister explained Excavation works for the USD$8.9 Million Musakashi Irrigation Scheme was all done last year and that pumps are now on the way while pipes are already available.

“We have divided the Musakashi scheme into two, North and South, and Land clearing has been done for North while in South about 70 percent works have been done.”

With about 650 hectares of land, the Lusitu Irrigation Scheme in Chirundu has 114 houses already constructed and occupied.

Mr. Katambo said 80 percent works have been done at the scheme that will also pump water direct from the Zambezi River.

“We are just waiting for pumps from Chine and some have already arrived whilst some are the on the way, and immediately we install the pumps will be at 95 percent.” Mr. Katambo said he was particularly happy that the works in the three sites were progressing well and being done according to the agreed specifications.

“It is gratifying that once the schemes are completed and become by this next year, many people will benefit through irrigation,” he said. Mr. Katambo said the project was another sign of President Edgar Lungu’s commitment to diversify from mining and promote agriculture in a bid to make it the country’s economic mainstay.

By By Nicholas Mwale

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