Spilling dam reignites hope for good harvest
Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
THE spilling of Lower Umguza Dam in Matabeleland North province has brought smiles among farmers and rekindled their hope of recording a bumper harvest.
Lower Umguza Dam is a major source of potable water for farmers in Umguza District.
The dam is among the eight dams in the country that are spilling following the rains the country has been receiving in the past two weeks.
Other dams which are now full and spilling include Lake Chivero in Harare, Mwenje in Mazowe, Masembura and Arcadia in Bindura, in Mashonaland Central, Biri in Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West province, Rufaro and Wenimbi in Marondera, Mashonaland East and Rusape, Tokwane and Nyajena in Masvingo and Tuli-Makwe in Gwanda, Matabeleland South.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) said the number of dams filling up and spilling is also rising.
Zinwa said despite the rains, dams such as Umzingwane and Upper Ncema near Esigodini in Matabeleland South province remained critically low at 4,2 percent and 2,7 percent respectively.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Lower Umguza Dam, about 20km out of Bulawayo, and observed the dam spilling, with a section of the dam wall letting out water.
The water tumbling down into the gorge and a river feed Umguza Irrigation Scheme plots where farmers are into various projects such as fresh farm produce and grain.
Farmers who spoke to a Chronicle news crew could not hide their excitement as they toiled in their fields in anticipation of a good harvest. The maize crops are at different stages of maturity.
The area was also teeming with hordes of people buying fresh produce such as beetroot, carrots and onions.
Mr Dumisani Ncube who utilises 7,6 hectares of land said he is now guaranteed of a consistent water supply following the spilling of Lower Umguza Dam
“I have 7,6 hectares, but I only utilised three hectares because of water shortages. I planted maize and we have been getting good rains since the onset of the rainy season and I am already selling green mealies,” he said.
“So the spilling of the dam means that we are guaranteed enough water all year round, although there is a good rainy season.”
Mr Ncube said while he intends to utilise all the available arable land at his plot, lack of funding is a stumbling block.
“I have challenges when it comes to securing funding from banks because of the collateral that they want when applying for a loan. With enough funding, I am capable of putting all the 7,6 hectares under crops and do wonders,” he said.
“If I get financial support, I will utilise the remaining 4,6 hectares by putting it under beans for the export market. I’m actually looking for US$7 000 to boost my farming project, which has a potential to give me US$48 000 in returns.”
Another farmer, Mr Patrick Chunda, who leases a three-hectare plot that is under maize and butternuts said the spilling of the dam is major a boost for his land as he prepares to plant wheat.
“For us, the spilling of the dam is music to our ears because it means we will have enough supply of water all year round. I look forward to a good harvest and during the winter cropping season, we are will be safe,” he said.
Mr Chunda urged the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to speed up paying outstanding money for last year’s grain deliveries.
“In the previous season, I planted wheat and I delivered some bags to the Grain Marketing Board depot. However, we are having challenges with payment,” he said.
Zinwa has also advised farmers and other raw water users intending to draw water from its dams in the coming irrigation season to start working on renewing or getting their water abstraction agreements in readiness for the season.
These water abstraction agreements allow Zinwa to allocate the available water efficiently among competing users.
Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Mrs Monica Chinamasa said it is a good sign for winter farmers to start preparations.
“The rising of dam levels signal a bumper winter harvest this year and it is a good sign for winter farmers to start preparations. This is very crucial for the winter crop such as wheat but I urge the Environmental and Management Agency (EMA) to act on the stream bank cultivation which is causing a lot of siltation in dams,” she said.
“A lot of education and awareness campaigns should be put in place because not all farmers are aware of these issues. Water bodies should be protected so that we benefit from them.”