Tongaat, smallholder farmers in water wrangle
Illegal water abstractions by some farmers in the lowveld is threatening the production of the country’s sugar crop and prejudicing the viability of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
The sugar crop in Triangle thrives on irrigation with the country’s biggest sugar manufacturer, Tongaat Hullet complaining that despite paying $500 000 monthly for water access, it has to contend with farmers illegally poaching that water.
The Triangle area has numerous large scale and smallholder sugar cane farmers who rely on water channelled from the Mutirikwi river and diverted at the Nyajena weir.
The sugar company says the farmers who are illegally accessing the water are using pumps and in the process vandalising the canals in order to divert the water to their fields.
The company’s water affairs executive, Mr Ernest Eston says after making such a huge commitment to ZINWA, more efforts have to be put in place to ensure the illegal water abstractions are stopped immediately.
ZINWA says they are engaging many of the farmers with a view of ensuring that they meet the financial obligations associated with accessing the scarce resource.
ZINWA Acting Director – Water Supply Operations, Engineer Albert Mare says many farmers are not aware that the implications of their actions also have repercussions on the growing of the crop in the lowveld.
Towns such as Chiredzi were built on the strength of the sugar industry and it is imperative that any stumbling block to the production process is dealt with as a matter of urgency.