Major irrigation drive underway

The government plans to increase irrigation schemes to over one million hectares from 461,326 hectares currently by 2025.
This was said at the just ended Nane Nane agriculture fairs in Lindi Region by the Acting Director General of the National Irrigation Commission, Mr Seth Luswema.

He said the irrigated land is 1.6 per cent of the total area suitable for irrigation in the country and there have been efforts to increase the size of the area.

A total of 10,000 hectares of land area are added to the irrigation schemes every year and the projects have been successful in the past ten years. About 29.4 million hectares of land is suitable for agriculture, of which 2.3 million is suitable for irrigation.

To increase the size of the land under irrigation, the government, through the irrigation commission, plans to involve the private sector, an initiative that will boost agricultural output.

One of the functions of the irrigation commission is to advise the government on implementation and review of the national irrigation policy, strategy, national irrigation master plan and related legislation.

Mr Luswema said 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the irrigated land is cultivated with rice and the remaining has been reserved for maize, sugarcane and vegetables.

He said rice is covering such an extensive area in the country because of its nature of being both food and commercial crop.

“The irrigation schemes in the respective regions have brought about huge economic impacts and many people are benefitting from the rice value chain,” he said, adding that plans are there to expand the schemes in the earmarked regions.

Some of the regions where the rice irrigation schemes are executed are Mbeya, Irringa, Morogoro and Kilimanjaro.

Others like Mwanza, Shinyanga, Dodoma, Singida and Manyara implement supplementary irrigation due to the nature of the climate in these regions.

He said the irrigation commission is responsible for coordinating, promoting and regulating the functions in the development of irrigation sector.