Elita Chikwati recently in Umzingwane
At least 1 000 households in Umzingwane are set to benefit from the establishment of seven irrigation schemes along the Mtshabezi Water pipeline.
The pipeline ferries water from Mtshabezi Dam to Bulawayo and passes through Umzingwane communities.
Briefing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality last week, Member of Parliament for Umzingwane, Cde William Dewa said 600 hectares would be committed to irrigation.
He said the irrigation facility will boost agricultural production in the area, improve household food security and boost the farmers’ income.
“The Mtshabezi Dam is in Umzingwane and the pipeline, which ferries water to Bulawayo passes through our community. The people near the dam and pipeline have not been benefiting from the water and we engaged the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
“Government has approved that we have access to water and we have already identified seven irrigation schemes and one already has water,” he said.
Cde Dewa said Zinwa will establish take offers along the pipeline to enable irrigation schemes to access water.
“With irrigation, it is possible for farmers in the area to plant different types of crops, unlike when the farmers relied on rain fed agriculture where they only produced small grains.
“We are encouraging the farmers to produce horticultural crops and take advantage of the vegetable processing plant that is being constructed in Esigodini,” he said.
He said he had engaged the beneficiaries of the irrigation schemes to pay for the water.
“Payment of water is a challenge everywhere but we have engaged farmers and encouraged them to pay for the water for Zinwa to survive and also ensure they continue to get the service.
“We also expect Zinwa to install meters so that farmers pay for the water they would have used rather than the authority to use estimates,” he said.
Zinwa acting director for water supply, Engineer Albert Mare said farmers will pay a cost of $2 per mega litre of water. He said Zinwa charged water according to the farmers cropping programmes.
“We know water requirements per hectare for every crop and we come up with costs depending with the hectarage.
“We are seized with the issue of meters but according to the law, the consumers should install the meters. The meters for untreated water are expensive and cost around $3 000 each. Our drive is to install metres on all large-scale farmers who are not paying water bills and we charge them for the meters,” he said.
Eng Mare also complained of high electricity charges and said the parastatal had approached Zesa without any success.