FARMERS at the Guyu-Chelesa Irrigation Scheme in Gwanda say incessant power cuts are affecting their farming activities resulting in some of their crops wilting.
The farmers told the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation deputy minister responsible for cropping, Davis Marapira, during a tour of the irrigation scheme that unscheduled load-shedding programmes had severely affected their crops.
“Irrigation farming requires electricity to pump water, but we have gone for four days without electricity which makes life very difficult,” one of the farmers told Marapira.
In response, Marapira said the government was working on revitalising irrigation farming to avert starvation in Matabeleland as it has been experiencing food shortages over the years due to poor rainfall.
“Matabeleland province is meant for crop farming which is only done through irrigation programmes, but we have realised that a lot of irrigation schemes do not have enough inputs to fight against drought and at the same time Zesa is letting us down a,” Marapira said.
Zimbabwe was once Africa’s breadbasket, but has over the years been turned into a basket case relying mainly on food imports for the survival of its people.
“Zimbabwe is now living like a beggar.
“This is not good for a country, but we will be able to have food with the imported maize from Zambia. We have set our sights on resuscitating all irrigation schemes,” he said.
Marapira also said developing vibrant irrigation schemes was critical.
“We cannot win the fight against drought if my ministry, the Environment, Water and Climate, and the Energy and Power Development ministry do not work together,” Marapira said.
The deputy minister warned against corruption in the distribution of farming inputs and indicated that hunger had adversely affected schooling in most parts of Matabeleland South with over a thousand pupils abandoning school.
Gwanda Central MP Edson Gumbo lamented the water crisis saying it had affected crops.
“Zesa is letting us down as these farmers go for days without electricity,” Gumbo said.
“My wish is that if only we could have a back-up generator to pump water and irrigate because we survive through this irrigation scheme.”