Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
About 42 hectares of maize has started wilting at two major irrigation schemes in Beitbridge West Constituency following a two-month power blackout that affected the pumping of water.
District agriculture extension officer Mr Masauso Mawocha said poles supplying electricity to Shashe, Jalukange and Bili irrigation schemes fell during recent storms.
He said power supplies to Shashe we restored last week and the unavailability of water was affecting citrus production at the initiative.
“The situation at Jalukange and Bili is disheartening,” said Mr Mawocha. “According to our recent assessment, a total of 21,5 hectares at Jalukange is a complete write off. At Bili, 20ha was affected and has started wilting.
“The projects’ management committees in these areas are now working with the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company to restore services.”
Mr Mawocha said the crop situation was also bad at other irrigation schemes where water sources were drying up and in some instances farmers were failing to access fuel to power irrigation pumps.
“The farmers cannot access fuel from services stations where they are not allowed to load in containers,” he said. “However, we have been writing cover notes for them to be assisted.”
Mr Mawocha said most crops, especially those under dry land production were distressed.
He said they were hopeful that if the district received rains in the next few days, the situation would improve.
Beitbridge District is a drought prone area where animal husbandry and irrigation farming are the main source of livelihoods for communal farmers.
It is estimated that there are 200 000 cattle, 145 000 goats, 60 000 sheep, 37 000 donkeys, 2 000 pigs, 6 000 dogs and 28 000 domestic birds in the district.
A non-governmental organisation, Cesvi, is rehabilitating nine irrigation schemes in Beitbridge as part of three year Zimbabwe Resilience Programme which is funded by the United Nations Development Programme.
These include; Bili, Shashe, Jalukanga, Dombolidenje, River Ranch, Tongwe, Kwalu, Tshikwalakwala and Ndambe 2.