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160 face starvation as Zesa shuts down irrigation

160 face starvation as Zesa shuts down irrigation

Irrigation SchemeMarvelous Moyo Gwanda Correspondent
AT least 160 families face starvation after Zesa cut power to the Guyu-Chelesa Irrigation Scheme in Gwanda District over a $37,000 debt. The irrigation scheme committee chairperson Mhlangano Moyo yesterday told Chronicle nothing would be harvested from the irrigation scheme this year, as farmers failed to water their crops following the power cut.

He said the power utility disconnected electricity to the 32 hectare irrigation scheme in December last year.

“We owe Zesa $37,000 and as a result power supplies to the scheme were cut off. Before we were disconnected, farmers would manage to pay something after selling the produce but now that our operations have been completely crippled we’ve serious challenges in raising the money to settle the arrears. We’re appealing for Government to intervene so that we can be able to resume operations since the scheme is our source of income,” said Moyo.

He said prior to the disconnection, the scheme had power supplies disrupted on several occasions, which negatively affected their irrigated crops, resulting in losses.

Moyo said farmers tried to negotiate payment terms with the power utility but received no joy, hence their predicament.

“When Zesa cut us off, we had planted some crops but they were all a write-off. Farmers then replanted with the hope of utilising rain water, but all our efforts went down the drain as there was very little rain last year,” he said.

Moyo said the scheme benefits 160 farmers and their families as well as nearby communities.

“This year there’s a looming drought in our province and this scheme would’ve provided food for a readily available market. We would’ve been able to pay part of the debt, but now?” said Moyo.

He said Guyu-Chelesa irrigation scheme is one of the biggest schemes in the district and has helped farmers pay school fees for their children and also sustain families.

Matabeleland South Province received low rainfall this year and most crops have been written off due to moisture stress.

A comment could not be obtained from Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira yesterday.

He promised to phone back with a response but had not done so by time of going to print.

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