Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
Most peri-urban farmers are producing low-grade tobacco due to water pollution by local authorities and industries, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired) has said.

In an interview during his visit to the Midlands Province recently, Minister Shiri said tobacco farmers, especially those along Biri River near Harare, were left counting their losses this year after their crop was affected by water pollution.

“We are having a problem of water pollution which has affected the quality of crop for most peri-urban farmers this year,” he said.

“Farmers along Biri River had poor grades of tobacco because they were using polluted water. This is the challenge that we are having as a ministry.”

In the Midlands, Minister Shiri said, there were also concerns of water pollution along Sebakwe River.

Sebakwe Dam supplies most of the water for irrigation in Kwekwe.

“We have also received complaints from farmers around Kwekwe who are crying foul over the continued water pollution by industry and the local authority,” he said.

Minister Shiri said his ministry was working on ways to address the problem that is plaguing almost all peri-urban farmers.

“It is a problem we are seized with as a ministry and we will see how best to deal with it,” he said.

“The first step would be the need to engage local authorities on the matter.”