|Antelope irrigation scheme resumes operations|
|Saturday, 16 June 2012 20:54|
Business ReporterFARMERS in Maphisa’s Antelope Irrigation Scheme have started planting winter wheat after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority reconnected power more than four months after it was disconnected, a member of the scheme has said.
The scheme had ceased operation in January over an estimated US$65 000 electricity debt.
In an interview the chairperson of the scheme, Ms Portia Ndlovu, said although they had started farming again, they were struggling to get inputs as the contract that they were relying on had failed to materialise.
Last month, a certain company promised the scheme some inputs but according to the chairperson, the contract was terminated as the (company) budget could no longer allow them to fund Antelope and Arda.
“We are struggling to get top dressing fertiliser and certified seed hence we are using low yielding seed that we harvested and this will affect our production,” said Ms Ndlovu.
Ms Ndlovu said the Government loaned them compound D fertiliser and despite the challenges, winter farming was underway.
“Although we are struggling to acquire more inputs, most of the farmers are working on their land but the challenge is since we have been inactive for so long most had already used up all their wheat,” she said.
The chairperson said the scheme was working towards paying off their debts so as to avoid a repetition of what happened in January as it cost them a lot in terms of losses.
“We are still trying to pay off the electricity debt, we have resolved to collect money monthly and take it to Arda so that they can pay Zesa. The problem is that we do not have our own account with the power company as this would have allowed us to have a suitable payment plan,” she said.
The scheme allegedly lost US$190 000 after their water supply was cut off and all their crops wilted.
They blamed the losses incurred on alleged mismanagement by Arda citing that they had loaned them 200 hectares of land and Arda was supposed to be responsible for paying Zesa as per agreement.
Antelope irrigation scheme has 102 members.