Tomato blight hits Lower Gweru

By Tafara Chikumira

FARMERS at Gwenjani Irrigation Scheme in Lower Gweru are counting their losses after their tomato crop was destroyed by a fungus infection.

The fungus infection caused by rains received early this month has affected the promising tomato crop at the irrigation scheme.

Agronomist, Mrs Selina Sakupwanya confirmed the development although she was quick to give advice on how to avoid such losses in future.

“What we are experiencing here is a complete write-off of the crop due to this fungus disease. The plants have been destroyed and as such no longer fit for marketing. We have also seen some worms affecting the crop at this scheme. We have always emphasised on the need to use proper herbicides at appropriate times but sometimes farmers seem to give a deaf ear to such advice. They tend to take things for granted and the results are there for all to see. The application of the herbicides is not random as we advise against the fungus developing resistance, hence we always call for the involvement of professionals,” she said.

The farmers are also looking at irrigation as a solution to some of their challenges.

“We only enjoy irrigation soon after the rainy season, but as we go towards the summer season, all this vanishes. We therefore appeal to authorities to help in the refurbishment of the dam wall,” said one farmer.

“This irrigation scheme is a result of hard work from us. What is troubling us most is the fact that we have to ferry water from the dam using buckets which is a bit tiresome. We are therefore saying there is need for some irrigation equipment to be installed for easy workmanship,” added another.

The local Legislator, Honourable Omega Sibanda rallied all stakeholders in Lower Gweru to support the irrigation scheme.

“The second republic is clear about supporting people who are eager to make a difference in societies. These people have shown that they are ready to upgrade themselves through hard work. What is disturbing is that sometimes they have to struggle to look for transport to go and sell their products in Gweru and yet we have a mission hospital and boarding schools nearby who in turn go and buy such products in town. Something has to be done about a people’s market,” noted Sibanda.

The Gwenjani Irrigation scheme was established in 1993 with around 200 families directly benefiting from agricultural activities at the scheme.