Friday, September 16, 2011

(HERALD) 300ha wheat wilts, power cable thefts cited

300ha wheat wilts, power cable thefts cited
Friday, 16 September 2011 02:00
Agriculture Reporter

SOME Beatrice wheat farmers have begun counting their losses after over 300 hectares of their winter wheat crop is wilting due to power outages caused by electricity cable thefts in the area. The power outages have affected Nengwa, Denby and Welcome home and Innsfree farms.

The farmers say they have gone for more than two weeks without electricity and their crop is now a write off. Mr Nyasha Mangena, said the situation had gone out of hand as their crop will never recover even if electricity was restored.

Other farmers in the area were contemplating feeding the wheat to their livestock, as they no longer expect any returns.

"There have been numerous cable thefts and Zesa Holdings has been taking very long to replace the stolen equipment.

"We once had the same problem in May when we were planting and now our crop has reached the flowering stage, which requires enough water and we do not get the electricity," he said.

Mr Mangena said the thefts were so organised that some farmers were beginning to suspect Zesa Holdings officials.

"It is so strange how the thieves will quickly know that new cables have been put in place. Soon after replacement, the cables are stolen and we do not have resources to investigate," he said. Another farmer, Mr Simon Mawarure, said it was disturbing that police and Zesa officials' investigations were yielding nothing.

"The police and Zesa officials take long to investigate the issue and this is raising our eyebrows," he said.

Mr Mawarure said instead of replacing the cables, a Zesa depot manager for Beatrice only identified as Mr Nyakungu was harassing farmers and accusing them of stealing the cables.

"How can we steal the cables when we have a crop that requires irrigation and how much can we get from the cable compared to the profits we get from the land," said Mr Mawarure.

The affected farmers said Mr Nyakungu was in the habit of misrepresenting information to his superiors.

Farmers in the area have now employed people to guard the cables.

Another wheat grower, Mr Godfrey Muradzikwa, said he was now depending on generators to irrigate his crop although the other 25 hectares were now a write off.

Besides wheat farmers, the power shortages have also affected dairy, poultry and pig farmers in the area.

Mr Noël Chikuvanyanga, said he was now giving his pigs and chickens dirty water from the swimming pool.

"Now my layers are dying and I am suspecting it could be this contaminated water but I have nothing to do," he said.

The farmers appealed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Joseph Made to intervene.

"Minister Made is the only person who can save us because the other methods are not working," he said.

Zesa Holding spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said he needed time to investigate the issue.

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