Urban farmers in Gweru, who continue to cultivate land on areas earmarked for urban development, risk having their crops destroyed when work to develop the areas resumes, Gweru mayor councillor Charles Chikozho has said.
Urban farmers have continued, in defiance, cultivating open spaces which are earmarked for urban development in the city.
This is despite several warnings, including adverts in newspapers, by Gweru City Council against cultivating on land set aside for develop- ment.
In an interview, Cllr Chikozho said the local authority was set to resume work to develop land for the Mkoba 21 project this year.
Although work to develop the new suburb was supposed to start in December, it stalled amid reports that the local authority was facing financial challenges.
“Our Mkoba 21 project will resume early next year (this year) and we have been advising residents to desist from cultivating on such areas which are targeted for development,” said Cllr Chikozho.
“Those who defy the directive risk having their crops destroyed when work resumes.”
Cllr Chikozho said they flighted advertisements in newspapers advising those interested in urban farming to approach the local authority for the allocation of pieces of land. \
He said the council recognised the importance of urban farming in improving food security in the country, hence the idea to allocate residents some plots to cul- tivate.
“We are embarking on a huge housing project, so we have warned residents against cultivating in some open areas,” said Cllr Chikozho. “They tamper with our pegs.”
A snap survey conducted by The Herald revealed that urban farmers continued to defy council and were cultivating on prohibited areas.
At an open space between Mboka 12 and the industrial site, some maize crops are now below knee level, with farmers taking advantage of the prevailing wet spell to plant.