Government has started mobilising U.S.$12 million to clear land for the development of an irrigation scheme at Nuanetsi Ranch for 3 000 families displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi, Masvingo Province.
The displaced families were allocated one-hectare plots at Nuanetsi following their relocation from the flooded Tokwe-Mukosi basin in early 2014.
The families said the one-hectare plots were too small and asked Government to resettle them where they could easily benefit from Tokwe-Mukosi Dam water.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri last week revealed that Government wanted to develop irrigable plots for the flood victims.
Speaking during a tour of the Lowveld, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri, said Government was mobilising money to finance the development of irrigation land by China’s Nanchang Engineering that was awarded a tender to clear 6 000 hectares for the families.
The Chinese company was awarded the land clearing contract by Government through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
“I think you are aware that there is a Chinese company (China Nanchang Engineering) that has already moved its equipment to the site (Nuanetsi Ranch) to start land clearing so that we can develop irrigation plots for the families. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is busy running around to mobilise the funds required to start the land clearing process,” she said.
“The good thing is that there is already a budget for the land clearance project so we just hope that the funds will be secured soon because we want to make sure that the families who were displaced by Tokwe-Mukosi Dam are the first to benefit from its irrigation water.”
She said Government was also working around the clock to raise funds to pay outstanding compensation to the flood victims for their homes and property destroyed by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin.
“We are aware that there is still a sizeable number of flood victims who are still to get compensation and Government is looking for the money. We are happy that a good number received their money and some have actually built good houses,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
The Minister said the completion of Tokwe-Mukosi Dam would open vast economic opportunities in Masvingo that revolved around irrigation, saying Government had already started drawing up plans on how the water would be immediately harnessed for irrigation.
Tokwe — Mukosi Dam will turn southern parts of Masvingo into a perennial greenbelt while also providing scope for the opening of an additional 9 000 hectares of sugar-cane plantations in the Lowveld.
Plans are afoot to open Zimbabwe’s second ethanol plant at Nuanetsi Ranch in a $400 million investment whose implementation hinges on the availability of Tokwe-Mukosi water to irrigate sugar-cane to feed the ethanol plant.
Zimbabwe Bio Energy, a joint venture between a group of investors fronted by businessman Mr Billy Rautenbach and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe, have already had their ethanol project investment approved by the Masvingo provincial leadership.