The feasibility study for Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project is about to completed with a net irrigable area of 25, 000 hectares identified for crop production.
The study recommends growing eight crops being; sorghum, beans, sunflower, maize, cotton, wheat, soybean alfalfa and mango. The study was conducted by an Italian company, Studio Gallli Ingegneria (SGI).
Agriculture Hub, Communications and Investor Relations Officer, Baitshephi Babusi-Hill told BusinessWeek that the Environmental and Social Impact Assesment (ESIA) and the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) reports have been submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in January for adjudication and subsequent approval.
“The feasibility study is about to be completed pending the final update by the consultants. The study produced the field investigations report, agricultural commercial business plan report, financial model and bankable feasibility study report,” said Babusi-Hill.
The agriculture component aims to establish a viable integrated commercial agricultural development project on area of +/-35, 000 hectares drawing 495 million cubic metres water from the Zambezi River.
Babusi-Hill said the construction of the project is expected to be complete by 2020.
“The tender for Consultancy Services for the appointment of an engineer for the project was awarded end of November 2014. The contractor would be appointed in April,” she said.
She said funds amounting to P110 million for Zambezi Project Field Services (for preconstruction activities for the pipeline) have been approved.
The project comprises two main components, which are: the agricultural production component and the water conveyance infrastructure.
She explained that the responsibility for the agricultural component lies with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), while the water conveyance infrastructure is the responsibility of the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources MMEWR) including the Chobe-Zambezi Water Transfer Project to be implemented by MMWER, which is in two phases.
Babusi-Hill explained that currently consultations are ongoing regarding preconstruction of Chobe-Zambezi water transfer scheme Phase 1 activities such as acquisition of servitude, location of camp site and synergies with the Kazungula bridge project. The tender for the appointment of the consultant to carry out EIA study update (3.2 km section of the pipeline from Chobe River to Kazungula Junction) and supervision of the pipeline construction closed on 10 February.
“Regarding transfer of funds to Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for the provision of power to the project area, negotiations are on-going between BPC and MMEWR,” said Babusi-Hill.
The primary objective of the project is to establish a viable integrated commercial agricultural development, which will improve Botswana’s food security, diversify agriculture, and create employment.
Currently agriculture’s contribution to Botswana’s GDP is valued at only 2.94 percent.