OPENING ADDRESS: THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, HONOURABLE DR. DENNIS NORMAN (MP)
Mr Chairman, Workshop participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to address you today at this workshop, which has been convened to discuss and come up with cost-effective small-scale irrigation technologies. I believe you have a challenging task ahead of you to review the current irrigation technologies and to formulate strategies to overcome problems which are being experienced by smallholder irrigation farmers.
This workshop is taking place at a time when a number of countries in Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, have just received abundant rainfall during the 1996/97 season. As a result, water logging and leaching of nutrients are most topical issues raised by the farming community this season. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that a number of other unfortunate countries in the East and Southern Africa sub-region are suffering from severe droughts. Recurrent droughts and uneven distribution of rainfall are serious constraints to agricultural production and food security in many African countries. In Zimbabwe, farming activities for nearly 60 percent of the population living in agro-ecological regions IV and V are always seriously undermined by limited and erratic rainfall patterns even during a season like a current one when their counterparts in agro-ecological regions I, II and III have had above normal rainfall.
The development of water and irrigation infrastructure is therefore essential to reduce the variability of agricultural production and ensure sustainable food security in many countries in Southern Africa. It is projected that most of the increase in production required to feed the increasing world population in the next 30 years has to come from irrigated agriculture. Three critical preconditions are required to bring this about. Firstly, there must be sound investments in water harvesting and irrigation infrastructure. Secondly, good government policies are required for establishing a conducive environment for the participation of smallholder farmers. Finally, well trained farmers and personnel with adequate technical knowledge are required for the implementation and monitoring of various irrigation projects.
I understand that this workshop, jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Programme for Technology Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) of the World Bank, focuses on four main themes, namely;
· Strategies for reducing the cost and improving access to irrigation technologies for individual farmers or small farmer groups;
· Promotion of local manufacture and demonstration of irrigation equipment and provision of technical services;
· Low-cost water development and conservation technologies for smallholder farming; and
· The enabling environment for technology uptake, including credit, marketing and extension services.
I would like to congratulate the workshop organizers because these four themes are very much in line with the critical preconditions for successful irrigated agriculture.
FAO has assisted Zimbabwe with smallholder irrigation development for a number of years. Through their assistance, Zimbabwe has developed a core of more than 40 planners and designers of smallholder irrigation schemes and implemented about 30 smallholder schemes. New methodologies in planning and implementing smallholder irrigation schemes with farmer participation, as well as water conservation technologies such as sprinkler irrigation, adapted to the conditions of the smallholder farmers, were successfully introduced and an Irrigation Testing Centre was established.
I am therefore confident that your deliberations will provide the opportunity for developing national and sub-regional programmes to promote and implement cost-effective and sustainable water conserving irrigation technologies for smallholder irrigation farmers.
It is now my pleasure to declare the Small-scale Irrigation Technology Transfer Workshop open and to wish you every success in your deliberations.
WELCOME ADDRESS: MRS. V. SEKITOLEKO, SUB-REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, FAO SUB-REGIONAL OFFICE FOR EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Dennis Norman, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Takavarasha, delegates from participating countries, resource persons, participants, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Sub-Regional Workshop on Irrigation Technology Transfer in support of food security on behalf of FAO and the International Programme for Technology Research on Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) and in my own capacity as the Representative of the FAO Sub-Regional Office for East and Southern Africa. I am glad that this Workshop, an important and probably the first technical forum to be held in sub-Saharan Africa since the World Food Summit, on a subject that is intimately related to food security and economic development, is held here, in Harare.
The most important reason for FAO and IPTRID to decide to hold this Workshop here in Harare is the unique position that our host country holds in terms of its post-independence achievements in small-scale irrigation development, and the opportunity the participants would have to visit some successful small-scale irrigation projects in the country and share the experiences of the Zimbabwean experts, equipment manufacturers and farmers in sustainable development of small-scale irrigation. This country has put in place, policies and strategies to promote small-scale irrigation, within the framework of national development policies of the country, as a means to increase food production, achieve food security and usher accelerated economic development. Zimbabwe has established an Irrigation Technology Centre for research and testing of irrigation equipment and has adopted farmer participation, as a fundamental policy, in smallholder irrigation development; and the profitability of smallholder irrigation has been demonstrated, especially with schemes where farmers are responsible for the management of their schemes and bear all the operation and maintenance costs. Gross margins of US$ 4 000 to 5 000 per hectare per year are not uncommon in these schemes; and the importance that the Government of Zimbabwe has given to this workshop is reflected by the fact that we have today, with us here, at this opening session, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. Indeed, we are privileged to have these two high officials of the government here and I wish to thank them on behalf of FAO and IPTRID for accepting our invitation to participate at this opening session of the Workshop.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to draw your attention to some important statements in the Rome Declaration of the World Food Summit, held in Rome in November last year, which are relevant to this Workshop. The Rome Declaration, which was adopted by the Heads of State and Governments who attended the Summit, considered it intolerable that more than 800 million people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. The declaration emphasized the urgency of taking action now to fulfill the responsibility to achieve food security for present and future generations. It recognized the need to adopt policies conducive to invest in human resource development, research, and infrastructure development for achieving food security. Water control was identified as a critical element for increased and stable food production.
Recognizing the need to assist Member Nations to achieve food security, FAO, in October 1994, launched a Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), the objective of which is to help low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) improve national food security through rapid increases in productivity and food production. The goals are to maximize national food self-reliance and reduce the risk of disruptive variations in supply. Two aspects of the Special Programme are relevant to this Workshop:
(a) it gives high priority to irrigation development and water control. In its pilot and demonstration phases, the Programme features on-farm demonstrations of water management technologies and practices and assessment of the potential for low-cost irrigation and water control systems; and
(b) the Programme is designed to achieve its aims through dissemination of existing and proven agricultural technology, and the removal of constraints which hinder its adoption.
Currently SPFS is operational in 23 countries of which 12 are in sub-Saharan Africa and include countries participating in this Workshop. In addition to the Special Programme, FAO is planning to launch pilot demonstrations on water control in the remaining 60 LIFDC countries, within the framework of the FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme. It is also relevant to mention in this context that FAO and the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch pilot projects on small-scale irrigation development in selected countries in Africa. The relevance and timeliness of this Workshop to the Special Programme and its related activities need no emphasis.
FAO's consistent and persistent effort to promote food security is further reflected by the theme that it has selected for the 1997 World Food Day. The theme of the 1997 World Food day is "Investing in Food Security". The role of investment in agriculture was stressed by the World Food Summit. One of the key elements of the Summit's Global Plan of Action was incentives and policies to encourage private and public investment to contribute to food security. A substantial portion of this investment will be directed towards irrigation development and water control.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In all our endeavours, we should at all times remember that women play a decisive role in household and national food security. In rural areas, they grow most of the crops for domestic consumption and in many cases produce crops for the market as well. Despite their contribution to food security, they tend to be "invisible" actors in development. Rural women's invisibility is further accentuated by their lack of political power and social representation resulting from prevailing attitudes, gender-biased legal and social structures. These should change. Among others, technology designed to suit women's needs can contribute to mitigating drudgery and provide women with opportunity to join in more beneficial and rewarding activities including placing them as equal partners with men in small-scale irrigation.
Mr Chairman, this Workshop serves as a spring-board for action. FAO, in collaboration with IPTRID, has brought here the major stakeholders of small-scale irrigation in general and the major actors in irrigation technology transfer and adoption in particular. I should mention here, the generous financial support of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), an international programme aimed at promoting integrated water resources management, including irrigation and drainage and the principles of Dublin and Rio Conferences.
The programme of the Workshop is designed to come out with concrete recommendations for action; action by national governments, NGOs, farmers, the private sector, UN and bilateral agencies and all concerned with development. It is my hope, and that of FAO and IPTRID, that the outcome of this Workshop will be a blue print for action to promote irrigation technology for food security. With this, I wish you all the best and success in your deliberations.
CLOSING ADDRESS: THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF LANDS AND WATER RESOURCES K.M. KANGAI (MP)
Read on his behalf by deputy secretary (Admin & Finance), Mr. A.D. Mashanyare.
Chairman, Delegates from participating countries, Resource persons, Workshop Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Southern Africa region has experienced persistent droughts in recent years. Fortunately too, the region has been blessed with abundant rains particularly in the season just ended. There has, however, been more drought years than good rainfall years to the extent that we now strongly believe that droughts are here to stay. Zimbabwe has not been spared from the ravages of the droughts. It has now become commonplace that all production, planning and development, particularly in the water and agriculture sectors, has to have a major focus on drought mitigation measures. I believe that both irrigation and drainage are important elements in any production system whose major thrust is aimed at minimizing the effects of the droughts.
It is also common knowledge that irrigation technologies have transformed the once erstwhile desert lands into lush green productive plains teeming with a large variety of fruit, vegetables, crops and animal feeds. The opportunities that irrigation technologies have brought about include the guaranteeing of food security at household level in the drought-prone areas to optimize land use and maximize production therefrom through double cropping or multiple cropping in appropriate areas. Such have been the benefits of irrigation that the optimum productivity of land is now being realized. Irrigation has made all the difference between starvation and survival in many parts of the world.
The increasing importance of irrigation as a means of producing both food and cash crops demands that better technologies should be developed. It is therefore significant that this workshop has concerned itself with the technological interface between the producers and the inputs into the production process, particularly water.
Water as I have said earlier is increasingly becoming a scarce commodity largely due to the drought but also due to increasing demand for its use from various users such as miners, agriculturists, urban dwellers industry, wildlife and the environment itself. It is therefore of utmost importance that water should be used efficiently. One way of inducing efficiency of water use is through the development of technologies that save water. We all know, however, that technology is user-related therefore the technologies have to be appropriate to the users.
I am informed that the transfer of improved technology for irrigation by small-scale farmers has been a major pre-occupation among you over the last four days. No doubt the recommendations that will come from the workshop will form the basis for future action to promote small-scale irrigation development through the transfer and adoption of appropriate technologies.
My ministry has long recognized the importance of water in the economy. To this extent, work is at an advanced stage to develop a water resources management strategy for the country. In the process, the legal framework is being amended to fall in line with the new economic and social order and to promote the participation of stakeholders in the planning, development, management and utilization of water resources. We hope that the recommended technologies will enable us to benefit more from the utilization of our scarce water resources.
Within the spirit of the SADC protocol on shared water resources, the Zimbabwe government through my ministry will promote inter-regional cooperation in water matters. The SADC protocol is an important political tool which will benefit a lot from improved technologies as the potential conflicts are likely to be avoided when people can adequately share a resource of such importance as water.
To all our visitors to Zimbabwe, I hope you have found your stay here enjoyable and that the workshop has met your expectations. I hope you found the exchange of ideas fruitful and that you already have something to take back home for implementation.
On behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, I would like to thank FAO for the great honour bestowed upon us to host this joint (FAO/IPTRID East And Southern Africa) Workshop on Small-scale Irrigation Technology. We feel highly privileged to have been your hosts and we hope that you have enjoyed the hospitality of our people. We look forward to future cooperation in other fields aimed at making the small-scale irrigation schemes more efficient and more productive for the benefit of our people.
It now gives me great pleasure to declare the joint FAO/IPTRID East and Southern Africa Workshop on Small-scale Irrigation Technology officially closed.