MASVINGO – Feasibility studies on the irrigation land-use pattern using Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water have been completed with a Cabinet thumbs up to the plan expected to pave way for the developing of more than 25 000 hectares in southern parts of Masvingo using the reservoir’s water.
Tugwi-Mukosi-the country’s largest inland water body with a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres-has largely remained underutilised after its commissioning in May last year.
Currently the dam, touted as a permanent panacea to recurrent food woes to drought-plagued Masvingo Province, is supplying irrigation water to Lowveld cane plantations at Triangle.
This has sparked murmurs of disapproval from the people of Masvingo who want Government to utilise the dam’s water to create a greenbelt in southern parts of the province to shore up the province’s economy through all-year round production of cash crops mainly for the export market.
Agriculture, Lands and Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said feasibility studies on the dam’s irrigation potential have been completed and now await Cabinet’s nod.
The deputy Minister said once results of the studies have been given thumbs up by Cabinet then work on the dam’s master plan would start.
”Feasibility studies to among other things identify areas that will be irrigated using the dam’s water have been completed and the studies were conducted by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture. Now the only remaining thing is for Cabinet to approve the findings of the studies to pave way for crafting of the master plan,” he said.
”Progress on the project was delayed by the just-ended polls but now the Ministry of Agriculture and its Environment, Water and Climate counterparts will soon come up with a master plan if Cabinet is happy with results of the feasibility studies,”he said.
The Agriculture Deputy Minister stressed that Government was committed to make sure Tugwi-Mukosi benefitted communities in the reservoir’s immediate environment.
He said Tugwi-Mukosi flood victims at Chingwizi will not lose out.
”The feasibility studies also took into account the plight of Tugwi-Mukosi flood victims and identified areas where irrigation could be developed for them to benefit from the dam’s water and all that will be reflected in the master plan once Cabinet okays the whole process.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said Tugwi-Mukosi could irrigate more than 25 000ha if modern technology was roped in.
He said Government wanted Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam to be the key catalyst for socio-economic development in the mainly arid Masvingo province.
The dam’s was built by Government over a 17-year period at a cost of $300 million.
Besides transforming southern parts of Masvingo into a greenbelt, Tugwi-Mukosi is also a potential major tourist attraction with its scenic topography ideal for building hotels and casinos.
Tugwi-Mukosi has potential to sustain a 15-megawatt hydro power plant which requires about $20 million to set up while plans are also afoot to open a mega game park in the dam’s buffer zone with mapping for the envisaged habitat being spearheaded by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe.