Zimbabwe has enormous potential, not only to feed itself and eliminate hunger, poverty and food insecurity, but also to regain its position as the bread basket of the Southern African region.However, due to a combination of factors, most importantly inadequate rainfall, agricultural output has taken a significant nose-dive in recent seasons thus putting the country’s food security situation under serious spotlight.
Although the climate change phenomenon, which has widely been credited for the poor rainfall pattern is a global problem, it is self-evident that its devastating effects are felt more in third world countries – to which Zimbabwe belongs – and this has reinforced calls for farmers to embrace irrigation farming as a pathway to safeguard long term food security.
However, it is imperative to point out that while this gradual shift from rain-fed to irrigation farming has been touted as the long term answer to food insecurity, not much effort has been put into enlightening farmers, particularly those who practice irrigation farming, on the importance of regularising their irrigation activities.
Stakeholders in the water and agricultural sectors must sensitise farmers on the importance of complying with the water permit and agreement system in the same vigorous way they encourage them embrace irrigation farming.
In other words, it is impossible envisage successful irrigation farming when farmers continue to disregard water utilisation regulations.
Without the adoption of a more serious approach to water resources management by all stakeholders including farmers themselves, it would be almost impossible to mitigate the increasingly severe effects of climate change.
The importance of agriculture to the country’s economic transformation is a public secret.
It is something that cannot be underestimated. It is therefore inevitable, particularly in a drought situation like this year that farmers’ operations come under serious scrutiny.
It is abundantly clear that due the harsh weather conditions currently obtaining, national food security is under serious threat and there is need to increase investment in water resources management which will go a long way in increasing agricultural productivity.
Unfortunately, the resistance by farmers to comply with policies and regulations governing water utilisation in this country has continued to scuttle efforts to attract investment in water resources management.
Evidently, the pertinent issue is not just about encouraging farmers to take up irrigation water.
It is also about emphasising the need for farmers to legalise their irrigation activities by signing agreements with the Authority.
Given that the success of irrigation farming is wholly dependent on how well water resources are managed, it has become imperative, especially in a drought season like this year, for irrigating farmers to ensure that they fully comply with the legally provided water utilisation framework.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is mandated by the Water Act (Chapter 20:24) to implement the water permit and agreement system which prescribes that all secondary water utilisation must be done in terms of a permit or agreement obtainable from the Authority or the Sub-Catchment Councils.
The Authority restates that it is illegal for any farmer to engage in irrigation activities without a permit or an agreement.
Farmers whose permits or agreements have expired are hereby encouraged to visit the Authority or relevant Sub-Catchment Councils to have the papers renewed.
The Authority will not hesitate to disconnect or take legal action against those who continue to sabotage drought mitigation measures by using water illegally.
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