Government has been urged to zoom in on agricultural challenges that dampen down crop irrigation development.

George Okech, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Country Manager told Parliamentary Committee on Status of the Irrigation Programme that various systemic and market constraints hold back irrigation farming.

Okech said the barriers include water availability, land tenure, power supply, transport cost, trade duties, taxes, limited access to finance and lack of knowledge by farmers.

FAO bemoans the dilemma citing that Zambia has water reserves and 523, 000 hectares with irrigation potential.

Okech said water for irrigation still remains a challenge especially, if surface water is not readily available for on-farm distribution.