The Zambian parliamentary committee on agriculture has slammed the existing irrigation policy and weak institutional implementation structures.
In a report on the importance of agriculture, the committee recommended urgent amendments to the irrigation policy and suggested that institutional structures be improved to spur on a vibrant irrigation sub-sector.
“Our findings are worrying and we are urging government to expedite the revision of the irrigation policy to provide effective guidance on investment in the sector,” said committee chairperson Maxus Ngonga.
Generally, agricultural production in Zambia is rain-fed, making irrigation development vital to mitigate productivity vulnerability due to erratic rainfall patterns.
Ngonga said the fact that the country’s irrigation research centre is not operational, is symptomatic of the ineffectiveness of the existing policy.
According to him, the situation is exacerbated by a lack of skills.
“We do not have skilled human resources in irrigation, because trained officers have gone for greener pastures,” Ngonga said.
The parliamentary committee’s findings tallied with research from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which showed that 30% of land suitable for irrigation, is developed.
The world food body cites land tenure and lack of knowledge and finance among the other challenges to crop irrigation.