George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has ordered Lowveld sugar maker, Tongaat Huletts Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to join forces and urgently address crippling irrigation water challenges at Mkwasine Estates in Chiredzi.
The order comes amid recurrent breakdowns at Manjirenji Dam outlet tunnels that convey irrigation water to Mkwasine and Nandi cane fields.
The two fields straddle a combined over 14 000 hectares and currently, Manjirenji is only able to supply half the required water daily.
The situation has left cane farmers facing disaster with their crop wilting owing to lack of water coupled with stratospheric temperatures.
The Minister of State responsible for Implementation of Special Agricultural Programmes in the Office of the President and Cabinet Davies Marapira says the situation at Mkwasine is dire.
He challenged Zinwa and Tongaar to urgently address the problem by replacing obsolete outlet works at Manjirenji Dam which are nearly 60 years old.
Tongaat will assist Zinwa to raise funding for the new equipment with farmers expected to also chip in.
Recently Mkwasine and Nandi went for over week without water after a major leak on the outlet pipes that has since been repaired.
However, supplies still fall short of peak demand worsened by high temperatures in the Lowveld.
Manjirenji is the sole water source for Mkwasine and Nandi estates that supply a substantial amount of sugarcane at Tongaat-owned mills at Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates.
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