Wheat farmers propose power tariff reduction Mr Paul Zakariya

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

WHEAT farmers have commended Government’s recent initiative to reduce water charges by 31 percent and called for a similar reduction in electricity tariffs to further encourage farmers into allocating more land to wheat cultivation.

This comes after Government instituted a raft of measures aimed at motivating wheat production for self-sufficiency and export.

Wheat farmers have been placed into clusters using global positioning system (GPS) coordinates for each wheat farm for ring-fenced water and electricity supplies.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) secretary general Mr Paul Zakariya said in order to ensure profitability in the wheat sector, production costs must significantly decrease.

“Reduction of water tariffs is one of the factors that will help turnaround the fortunes of our producers. The same should be extended to energy,” he said.

Mr Zakariya said electricity tariffs for agriculture must be reduced and payments must be consistent with agricultural timelines.

“We are happy with the water tariff reduction. The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) must do the same, as inputs are still very expensive and cost of production high,” Zimbabwe National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president, Mrs Monica Chinamasa concurred.

Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) chairman, Mr Graeme Murdoch said any steps taken to reduce the high cost of production were appreciated and would assist in improving farmer viability.

Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing recently, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said the Government had come up with a robust plan for the production of winter cereals this year.

“The Ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and of Energy and Power Development have constituted an agriculture energy task force to coordinate strategies to ensure adequate electricity provision.

“In the same vein, the banks and contractors are being encouraged to treat electricity as an input and pre-pay part of the estimated bill on behalf of the farmer as they do for seed and fertilisers,” he said.

Secondly, in terms of the supply of water, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) will implement seasonal billing.

“The 31 percent tariff reduction is yet to be gazetted but will be backdated in order not to prejudice farmers. Farmers on stop order facilities will not be charged monthly interest on overdue bills, as was the case before. Zinwa will only start charging interest after farmers on stop order agreements have been paid,” said Dr Muswere.

Zinwa corporate communications and marketing head, Mrs Marjory Munyonga concurred saying the  Government reviewed raw water tariffs for irrigating A2 farmers at the end of last year, as a way of encouraging irrigation agriculture and productivity.

“The review saw tariffs for A2 farmers going down by 31 percent from US$14,35 to US$10, 76 per megalitre (one million litres). Zinwa has already started implementing these tariffs and is encouraging all irrigating farmers to get water abstraction agreements ahead of planting the winter crop to secure their water allocations for the season,” she said.

Zinwa will be implementing seasonal billing for all A2 farmers on stop order arrangements with financiers or off-takers of their produce.

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