By Elita Chikwati
THE irrigation capacity of Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s dams has almost doubled as a result of the heavy rains received this summer season.
Last year, dams had an estimated irrigation capacity of 78 204 hectares and if the additional capacity of 69 320 is fully utilised, the parastatal’s water sources will have a capacity of 147 524ha.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga on Thursday, urged farmers to take advantage of the available water to irrigate.
She said farmers should pay for the water.
“One of the major purposes of the dams around the country is irrigation,” said Mrs Munyonga. “Agriculture remains one of the major water users, moreso with the introduction of Command Agriculture.
“Zinwa expects a surge in demand for irrigation water in the coming water year which commenced on April 1, 2017. The advent of climate change has also seen a rise in irrigation agriculture.
“To this end, Zinwa appeals to all raw water users and prospective users to start putting together their water budgets and approach their respective catchment offices to obtain water abstraction agreements.”
Mrs Munyonga said it was a legal requirement that every person or organisation that uses water from Zinwa managed dams does so in terms of a water abstraction agreement.
She said farmers applying for new agreements or renewing lapsed ones should bring proof of land ownership (offer letter or lease agreement), agricultural report (from agricultural extension officer), amount of water needed, crop to be grown and the hectarage expected to be irrigated.
“With an anticipated rise in the demand for raw water, especially irrigation water, Zinwa will, during the course of the water year, put in place robust monitoring mechanisms to rid the dams and other water bodies of illegal users, Mrs Munyonga said.
“This will be done in conjunction with other stakeholders and law enforcement agencies such as the police. Any illegal use detected will result in disconnections and prosecution in terms of the Water Act.
Zimbabwe received above average rainfall in the 2016/7 season, which resulted in extensive flooding in most parts of the country.
Most dams are now full and spilling.
Dams that had not filled for years such as Mazowe, Upper and Lower Ncema have spilled this year, bringing hope to local communities and farmers.