The long awaited implementation of the Agro-Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme at Pandamatenga village in the Chobe district is gathering momentum. Government concluded plans to draw a total of 495 million cubic metres of water per annum from the Chobe/Zambezi basin sometimes in 2013 following an agreement with neighbouring countries sharing the water basin. “This (Agro-Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme) project will lead to expansion of the existing commercial farms in Pandamatenga by an additional 45 000 hectares through the supply of water from Chobe River,” Chobe Land Board chairperson Johane Chenjekwa revealed last Wednesday. Chenjekwa was addressing a press conference in Francistown. According to Chenjekwa, the project’s other objective is the transfer of water from Chobe District to the southern part of the country. He said the community consultations by the district leadership were conducted with the community comprising KALEPA (Kazungula, Lesoma and Pandamatenga) Community Trust in September 2017. Chenjekwa said: “The community agreed to relinquish the land held under the Trust and be allocated to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security and eventually the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA).” According to Chenjekwa, the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security submitted an application for the land on September 11, 2017 and was considered and allocated by the Board during its sitting late last month. “Agro-Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme is to carry out bush clearing within the Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project (ZIACDP) area to facilitate construction of the irrigation system and pertinent infrastructure, such as drainage and internal road networks and agro-processing facilities,” he said.
During the current year it is planned to carry out bush clearing of about 1 790 hectares out of the total required clearing area of 34 000 hectares, he said. Chenjekwa said the feasibility study for the ZIACDP at a new area west of the Pandamatenga Commercial Farms was completed in 2015. “The study has found out the project to be economically viable, which would create more than 2600 permanent jobs, produce about 160 000 tonnes of cereals and oil seeds, 216 000 tonnes of mangoes annually, and improve the agro-processing industry, resulting in enhancing food security,” explained Chenjekwa. Earlier on, the Chobe land Board Secretary Kealeboga Kemoreile said to construct phase one of the Chobe/Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme (CZWT), a pipeline from Chobe River at Kazungula to the ZIACDP area at Pandamatenga has to be erected. Kemoreile said the CZWT is to be implemented by Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLMWSS), to supply the irrigation water to ZIACDP. He said 270 million cubic metres of the total amount of water to be drawn is for Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project and the remaining 225 million cubic metres is for domestic water supply.