George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Water in Lake Mutirikwi, the country’s second largest inland dam, will no longer be used to irrigate sugar cane plantations in the Lowveld as it is being diverted to the planned Masvingo greenbelt.
The development comes as Lake Mutirikwi has spilled for the first time in more than 20 years, a development the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka likened to a harbinger of good agricultural fortunes for the province with arguably the highest dam density in Zimbabwe.
Minister Masuka disclosed that Lake Mutirikwi’s water will from now on be used to irrigate the mooted Masvingo greenbelt, which is on planning stage.
The greenbelt is one of the many earmarked under the integrated Lowveld irrigation development master plan that aims to put over 200 000ha under irrigation.
Minister Masuka expressed joy that Lake Mutirikwi had this year spilled, a feat last achieved more than two decades ago when Cyclone Eline and Cyclone Japheth spawned flooding in Masvingo and other parts of Zimbabwe.
The first phase of the Masvingo greenbelt entails development of irrigation on a belt stretching from around Mutimurefu, east of Masvingo City, to Roy commercial farming area further to the east.
This belt straddles 3 500ha and will be the first beneficiary of Lake Mutirikwi irrigation water.
Most dams in Masvingo were built to irrigate Lowveld cane plantations mostly in the pre-independence period and the coming on board of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Chivi South means the province now has far much surplus water for irrigating other crops.