Ray Bande Senior Reporter
THE once productive Chibuwe irrigation scheme in Chipinge district is turning into a white elephant owing to unabated siltation in Save River over the years that has left farmers failing to access water to irrigate their crops. At the height of production, Scheme A to E of Chibuwe irrigation scheme was the source of livelihood for members of the Chibuwe community as it produced tomatoes, sugar beans and maize for subsistence as well as commercial purposes.
The failure to access water from Save River has forced the farmers, who usually have a combined 400 hectares of sugar beans, to use traditional means of diverting water including the cumbersome and fearsome use shovels and hoes in the crocodile-infested river.
Each of the five schemes under Chibuwe irrigation scheme has an average of 70 farmers. Farmers said they are appealing for help to deal with the perennial problem.
Mr Samuel Mulagugu Maadza, who recalls the good old days when their parents used to send them to school out of proceeds raised from agricultural activities in the vast irrigation scheme, said the crop was now stressed because of water shortage.
Mr Maadza said farmers were feeling short-changed by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) for not bailing them out despite paying rates every season.
“Poor farming methods along our source of the water which is Save River has caused untold suffering to hundreds of farmers in our scheme,” said Mr Maadza.
“We have no resources to divert water since Save River is changing its route every season. Our crops have been stressed and if we continue facing this problem we will reap nothing.
“We tried to engage ZINWA to help us with heavy machinery to divert water to our pumps, but nothing materialised.”
Another farmer and local businessman Mr Lesley Sibiya said siltation in Save River was now beyond farmers’ control.
“We don’t have enough capital to hire heavy equipment to divert water to reach our pumps. We are appealing for help in getting a bulldozer and underground boreholes so that we can solve this problem.
This area has been producing a lot not only for ourselves but for other parts of the country.
“The situation with Save River is now a perennial problem at Chibuwe irrigation scheme and we are calling on Government to assist us in adopting new irrigation methods such as boreholes.”
Illegal farming along banks of the river has resulted in farmers failing to access water through their pumps, as its flowing pattern and water table has changed over the years.
The water problem will cost the farmers thousands of dollars as Chibuwe irrigation scheme is one the leading sugar bean producer in the country.