22 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Illegal Connections Threaten Sugar Cane Crop

Illegal water connections upstream are threatening over 6 000 hectares of sugar cane at the Mkwasine resettlement scheme. The irrigation scheme was allocated to indigenous farmers to grow sugar cane some 10 years ago.

Commercial Sugar Cane Farmers Association chairperson Mr Edmore Hwarare said there was need to swiftly address the water shortages at Mkwasine resettlement area.

"If we don't get water this month the crop in Mkwasine resettlement area will be a complete right off. The situation on the ground is not looking good. Instead of watering the crop four times per month we are now doing it only once," he said.

The illegal connections up the canal were damaging the inland waterway as farmers in those areas wanted to irrigate other crops like maize and wheat.

"This is leading to inadequate water supply to sugarcane fields," he said.

The water is drawn from Manjerenje and Siya dams in Zaka and Bikita.

Mr Hwarare urged those upstream who needed irrigation water to follow the necessary procedures.

"Due to damages on the canal, water is flowing out everyday," he said.

He said most farmers on the resettlement scheme faced bankruptcy as they would not be able to repay loans due to poor harvest.

Mr Hwarare urged Masvingo Provincial Governor Titus Maluleke, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and other relevant authorities to urgently intervene to rescue the situation before it got worse. Prior to the land reform programme, sugar cane production was a preserve of the white minority.

It was largely dominated and controlled by Tongaat Hulett, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed agricultural concern.

New Ziana

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