16 September 2013, Harare – Farmers in zimbabwe have hailed Zesa Holdings for scrapping electricity bills, a move they said will improve productivity. Zesa Holdings introduced a debt relief of US$80 million to resettled and rural farmers ahead of the summer cropping season. The company scrapped part of the bills as a way of contributing to the economic recovery and success of the agrarian reform.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo, said the scrapping of the bills was a way of empowering farmers.
“Most farmers had high bills which they were failing to settle. Now that Zesa has scrapped the debts we have no reason for failing to produce,” she said.
Mrs Nkomo said farmers would now have more disposable cash to purchase inputs in preparation of the summer cropping season.
She said it was important that the utility also works towards reducing the power cuts.
“The electricity supply should also be improved to enable farmers to irrigate their crops effectively,” she said.
Mrs Nkomo said constant power cuts were disrupting irrigation and also resulted in machinery breakdowns. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said this was a positive way of cushioning farmers from high costs of production.
“We have experienced consecutive droughts, high input costs and poor producer prices so we failed to settle our debts,” he said.
Beatrice farmer, Mr Anyway Mupondiwa said the move taken by Zesa was welcome.
“We are now relieved and look forward to a productive summer cropping season. It is good that authorities understand the plight of farmers. I urge farmers to start paying bills from now on,” he said.
Zesa is installing pre-paid meters in farming areas. The utility contracted another company Finmark to carry out the installations.
Finmark, project manager, Mr O’Brian Chigwedere said the company had several teams that were installing pre-paid meters in farming areas.
“We have covered some farms in Norton, Chegutu and Chinhoyi and are expecting to start installing in some parts of Karoi this week,” he said.
Zesa said it would continue to install pre-paid meters on all farming properties with a capacity of up to 50 kVA. “Modalities are being put in place to ensure all farmers including those with a higher capacity of over 50kVA will be on pre-paid meters as soon as the requisite meters are procured,” the power utility said.
– The Herald