Richard Muponde Gwanda Correspondent
HIGH water and electricity tariffs are frustrating irrigation projects in Gwanda thereby compromising food security efforts in the drought-prone district, an Agritex report has said.
The report indicates Gwanda three irrigation schemes – Mankonkoni, Rustler’s Gorge and Guyu — are struggling because of high water bills.
Only Makwe Irrigation is performing reportedly after their bills were settled by the Grain Marketing Board following an agreement between the two parties.
The report presented to the provincial Civil Protection Unit confirms most irrigation schemes in the district were dysfunctional because of water and electricity bills.
“This has been the major factor which has made the irrigations unproductive. Something has to be done so that these schemes can be productive because beneficiaries are not producing enough to pay for their water and electricity bills,” said Agritex.
Guyu irrigation chairman, Mhlangano Moyo, said they owed Zesa about $41,000 in unpaid bills, which were accumulating interest despite lack of productivity.
“As for water bills I’m not sure of the figure but it’s also high. The other problem is that our weir has cracked and it’s spilling. We spend a week without electricity leading to wilting of crops,” said Moyo.
Mankonkoni and Rustler’s Gorge have since been connected to solar while non-governmental organisations such as SNV, Practical Action and Dabane Trust have chipped in by installing water pumps from Shashe River.
The pumps have been lying idle for years due to a shortage of water. Solar power will run more than 16 electric pumps at the two irrigation schemes.
The government has said it was taking over all unproductive irrigation schemes to enhance food security in the country.
Meanwhile, a 99 kilowatt solar plant in Gwanda South will be commissioned next month to also assist irrigation farming and provision of water to business centres.
Gwanda South legislator Abedinico Ncube on Friday said food security in the district was going to improve soon after the commissioning of the solar plant.
“The date has been set for April 7 and we’re going to see things improve at our two irrigations, which have been connected to the grid. Mankonkoni and Rustler’s Gorge irrigation schemes are going to be productive because electricity will be available,” said Ncube.
The solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years running at 100 percent.