Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
MAJOR dams in the country’s traditional winter wheat producing provinces of Mashonaland East, West, Central, Manicaland and Midlands have enough water to irrigate 145 478 hectares of this winter’s crop, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has revealed.
Government is targeting to produce 415 000 tonnes of wheat this year under a contract farming deal financed by commercial banks to the tune of $2,7 billion,
This follows a significant increase in the planted area from 24 186 hectares last year to 80 000 ha this year.
In an interview, ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said regardless of the depressed water storage levels, which are a result of a generally poor rainfall season, the water in the major dams was sufficient to meet the country’s winter cropping and general irrigation requirements.
“The available storage is capable of irrigating 145 478ha of land countrywide with storage averages for the country’ traditional winter wheat producing provinces satisfactorily high,” she said.
On provincial dam level averages, Mrs Munyonga said Manicaland had a dam level average of 61,2 percent, Mashonaland Central 79,1 percent, Mashonaland East 78 percent, Mashonaland West 73,8 percent, Masvingo 47,8 percent, Matabeleland North 44,6 percent, Matabeleland South 47,4 percent and Midlands 49,7 percent.
Mrs Munyonga said the beginning of April was marked by the commencement of the water abstraction and all those organisations and individuals intending to draw water from ZINWA are expected to renew their water abstraction agreements for the year.
“These include local authorities, agricultural estates, mines and irrigating farmers. Those who are yet to renew their water abstraction agreements are advised to take the necessary steps towards the renewal of their agreements. Agreements allow ZINWA to efficiently allocate the available water among the various and competing uses. So as farmers make their winter cropping preparations, ZINWA encourages them to also lodge applications for their water requirements so that their allocations can be reserved in the dams,” she said.
As the winter cropping season begins, Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa wished to assure the nation that it has sufficient water in its dams to meet the winter cropping irrigation requirements and targets as enunciated in the Agricultural Recovery Plan and the Transitional Stabilisation Plan (TSP).
She appealed to farmers to make applications for their water requirements on time as they prepare for winter cropping.
The country requires approximately 400 000 tonnes annually.
Currently, the country imports between 70 to 75 percent of its wheat requirements.
On the declining dam water levels, Mrs Munyonga attributed it to the conclusion of the rain season and the subsequent drop in river flows.
“As at April 9, 2020, the national dam level average had dropped to 53,6 percent.
“The national dam level average is far below the 71,7 percent normally recorded in the month of April. Gwayi catchment has a dam level average of 51,5percent, Manyame Catchment 74,2 percent, Mazowe Catchment 79,4 percent, Mzingwane Catchment 48,9 percent, Runde catchment 45,6 percent, Sanyati Catchment 48,2 percent and Save Catchment 62, 8 percent,” she said.
In terms of river flows, significant increase in flows have been noted in the Zambezi, with flows of 4 270 cubic metres per second as at April 2, 2020. A decline in flows was observed in Save, Odzi, Devure, Musengezi, Runde and Mazowe Rivers.