Wheat producers say electricity tariffs too high
Friday, 20 July 2012 00:00
Senior Agriculture Reporter
WHEAT producers have expressed concern over high electricity tariffs Zesa is charging for irrigating a hectare of the crop. Most farmers fork out between US$700 and US$800 to irrigate a hectare of wheat.
“Farmers need between US$350 and US$400 to fund the production of one hectare of wheat (for inputs and labour minus power). Zesa is charging us US$0,14 per kilowatt per hour, which makes it very expensive especially when producing on a commercial scale,” Zimbabwe Farmers Union second vice president Mr Berean Mukwende said recently.
He said it would be viable if farmers were paying US$0,03 per kilowatt per hour. Mr Mukwende lamented the high interest rates banks were charging for loans.
“Banks are charging interest rates of 30 percent per annum while defaulters are charged rates as high as 50 percent.
“It would be better if banks were charging rates of between 3 and 10 percent per annum, as this would leave farmers with earnings enough to sustain their operations. Government is charging 3 percent interest rates for its winter wheat inputs loans and other players should also emulate that,” he said.
Mr Mukwende said other economies were charging between 2 and 3 percent interest rates to their farmers.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Donald Khumalo, said it was worrisome that all service providers seemed to be driven by a conspiracy to rip off farmers.
A farmer from Beatrice, Never Munemo also added that the Zimbabwe National Water Authority was making their life very difficult with their high water charges.
“The charges are too much and leave us unable to operate viably as emerging small-scale wheat farmers,” he said.
Zinwa, however, believes the charges are very fair and urged farmers to service their debts to continue their operations without hassles.
Zinwa charges US$12,68 per mega litre per year for commercial agriculture estates, US$12,19 per mega litre per year for commercial agriculture (A2), US$7,80 per mega litre per year for A1 farmers and US$5 per mega litre per year for both communal pumped and gravity.
Zinwa public relations manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga, said Zinwa was empowered by Section 39 (7) of the Water Act [Chapter 20:24] to charge for the operation and maintenance of various dams as per approval by the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management.