Reduced water costs to enable farmers boost irrigated hectarage



The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has received praise from farmers for lowering water tariffs  by 31% to US$16.41  a megalitre as part of their attempts to guarantee that farmers expand irrigation hectarage this winter, Business Times can report.

This week, Dr. Shadrek Makombe, the president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, told Business Times that the move by ZINWA was  a significant step in the right direction.

“The  reduction of water charges  by ZINWA is a good move in the  right direction because it will help farmers  to minimize  their expenses,” Makombe said.

He added: “The  cost will  go down  considering that  water is of paramount importance to irrigation. It is just like blood in the body, so when charges are reduced farmers are happy.”

Makombe claims that the lower cost of irrigation water will enable farmers to cultivate wheat on a larger scale, which will spur an increase in wheat production.

“It means farmers are in  a position to irrigate  large areas because they can afford to an extent so there is also a boom in irrigation  which means a boom in the produce as well.,” Makombe said.

The vice president of the Tobacco Farmers Union Trust, Edward Dune,said  water costs have never been advantageous for agricultural output.

“Any cost, whether reduced or subsidized, unfortunately in the farmer’s view adds liability and erodes profitability,” Dune said.

He added: “In the first place ZINWA has never been viewed as a parastatal performing to its expected standards.”

He added: “Farmers used to construct and invest into their own dams, maintain, store water and utilize to maximum productivity without the state interference, but with the new legislation ZINWA came in with all these changes resultantly further chewing into the farmer’s pocket,” Dune said.

Marjorie Munyonga, Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing for ZINWA weighed in saying: “Of late ZINWA and farmer organisations have been in very progressive discussion and deliberations on issues affecting farmers’ access to water, including the tariff model, to help farmers take up irrigation water from the dams and to also allow ZINWA to realise sufficient revenue from irrigation water sales for the maintenance of dams.”

She added: “The Government, through the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, l reviewed the irrigation water tariff for farmers growing cereals under irrigation as a way of promoting the uptake of irrigation water across the country and to improve food security.”


Additionally, Munyonga said raw water tariffs are set using hectarage and irrigation water are charged per megalitres, and the tariffs are set in a way that every farmer can access and afford the cost.

“Raw water tariffs are not set using hectarage but volumes since different crops have different water requirements. In the case of irrigation water, the water is charged per megalitre (ML) which translates to 1m litres.

“Before ZINWA implements any tariffs, they are approved by the Government and water tariffs have, always, been set to be affordable and responsive to the need to create a food secure country,” Munyonga said.

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