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    Sunday, 6 October 2019

    Gov’s lip service brings Mushandike Irrigations Scheme to the verge



    MELINDA TAGWIREI

    MASVINGO – Mushandike, the biggest small scale irrigation scheme in Zimbabwe is on the verge as Government continues to pay lip service to its undertaking to evict illegal settlers that are causing immense land degradation throughout the country.
    The 565 farmers on the scheme have earned an average of US$20 000 a year from various agricultural activities including market gardening, winter crop and cattle rearing.
    Now such earnings have plummeted, the well-planned 800 hectare scheme is inundated by illegal settlers who have invaded the grazing land and are farming and settled haphazardly thereby disturbing the laid out plans on the scheme.
    Paddocks have been destroyed and farmers have gone back to old days where they herd cattle.
    Denhere Bhusumani who is the chairman of the settlement located 30km South West of Masvingo City says canals are being destroyed by cattle and overgrazing which has resulted in serious sheet erosion. Canals have been silted and flow of water is chocked.
    In the early years Mushandike was a belt of green throughout the year and it became the breadbasket of Chivi and Masvingo Rural districts. Today the scheme is only green in summer and dry as bones for the rest of the year.
    Bhusumani says there are over 1 000 new illegal settlers brought in by village heads who earned handsomely from illegal sales of State land.
    These illegal settlers have been allocated stands in the grazing area and the settlements have been swelling since the late 80s’. Mushandike Dam itself from which irrigation water is drawn is almost dry now, holding only 3% of its capacity.
    The drying up of the dam is due to a combination of factors including climate change but the other critical one is that rivers upstream just like in the Lake Mutirikwi Basin are heavily silted because of illegal settlements and poor farming methods.
    Recently the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate, and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Marshal Perrence Shiri went on the offensive, declaring that he would evict illegal settlers throughout the country within seven days of the notices that they received. Now the project has lost steam and it’s dead in the water.
    There is no talk of those evictions anymore and this is probably because political considerations have reigned supreme again. Citizens welcomed the Government’s plans to evict illegal settlers because the impact of the catastrophic effect to the water systems is being felt all over the country.
    Two weeks ago farmers did not miss the chance to tell the Deputy Minister of State in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s Office, Evelyn Ndlovu of their desperation to see the backs of the illegal settlers.
    Ndlovu toured the scheme two weeks ago.
    #Masvingo Mirror#
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