Zinwa announces seasonal water billing for A2 wheat farmers Engineer Taurai Maurukira

Fildah Gwati

IN a move augmenting Government efforts to achieve wheat-based food security, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has adopted seasonal water billing for a select A2 wheat farmers to enhance their access to water.

The new billing arrangement will only apply to A2 farmers who have stop order agreements in place with their financiers or produce off-takers. This will allow the farmers uninterrupted access to irrigation water during the current wheat production season and settle their bills after selling their harvests.

Zinwa chief executive officer Engineer Taurai Maurukira revealed this during the authority’s interactive session with wheat farmers and other stakeholders held in Harare yesterday.

Eng Maurukira encouraged farmers to take full advantage of the seasonal billing arrangement.

“Farmers are thus encouraged to take full advantage of this arrangement, which allows them uninterrupted access to water during the season while giving them an opportunity to settle their bills after getting paid for their harvest,” he said.

He added that there should be no interest levied on those farmers’ accounts until such a time they receive their payments.

The interactive session was organised by Zinwa to align water resources with farmer needs to maximise the upcoming winter wheat harvest. It came against the backdrop of a poor 2023/24 rainfall season, which highlighted the threats posed by climate change.

Zinwa reassured farmers that the country’s extensive network of dams continued to hold sufficient water to satisfy irrigation requirements for up to 141 000 hectares.

Said Eng Maurukira: “What is now pertinent and key to the success of the 2024 winter cropping season is for the alignment of the available water resources to the activities of the farmers on the ground to allow for the optimal and sustainable extraction of the resource. This is precisely the reason why we have called for this interactive session so that we detect any misalignments early and realign.”

He added that interactive session was a culmination of the various engagements that Zinwa has been having with farmers around the country and utilising diverse river systems. It was tailor made to ensure that Zinwa cleared all snags that lie in the way of a successful season.

It brought together key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Zinwa and catchment council chairpersons.

Recently, Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) chairman, Mr Graeme Murdoch highlighted the importance of fair and reasonable water charges for wheat farmers.

He emphasised the need for stop order arrangements with Zinwa, allowing farmers to pay for the water used once they receive payments for their crops after marketing.

“We have had a series of constructive engagements with Zinwa. It is important that water charges to farmers for wheat are fair and reasonable and that farmers are able to enter into stop order arrangements with Zinwa so that they can pay for water used when they sell their crops and get paid,” he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Dr Shadreck Makombe chipped in stressing the importance of tariff rates and payments being done at the end of the season with no water disconnections.

“Tariff rates and payments must be done at end of season after harvesting and selling. There should be no water disconnections,” he said.

He urged Zinwa to release more water for farmers to increase its accessibility. Zinwa should also clear all bottlenecks that might complicate water availability for the winter wheat season.

The Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services acting chief director, Mr Leonard Munamati also hinted that out of the set target of 120 000ha for winter wheat, at least 30 482 had been planted.

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