Irrigation Schemes

29 04 2007

Dave is a congenial fellow who owns a smallish irrigation supply firm in Harare. He supplies mainly the horticultural sector but does a few other things too like mini pressure systems for households which supply a domestic setup from a storage tank. He is well stocked as I remarked to which he replied yes, but now he has to try selling it. I asked about how other companies are doing (hey, this is a small place and everyone knows everyone else’s business) commenting that they must be doing OK with all the government lending schemes for farmers (on newly “acquired” farms) wanting to put in irrigated wheat over winter. I have lost track of how many of these schemes there have been but they are often announced to great fanfare in the local press and then just seem to fade until the next one is announced. The latest is entitled “Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Fund” or just Aspef. Dave told me that yes, irrigation systems were moving out to the farms but in the time taken to process the application at the bank and get the money to the supplier the price had often at least doubled so little of use was getting out to where it was intended to go. So it seems that we will remain an agricultural basket case for a bit longer.

Not all recipients of Aspef money are “new” farmers. Some of the handful of white commercial farmers still farming have managed to get funds which supposedly should have made them immune to forced takeover. I see in this week’s Zimbabwe Independent that Neville Stidolph in the Karoi area has been arrested (after receiving Aspef funds) for ignoring an eviction notice. He was told by senior government officials in the area to stay put. I am not surprised and I suppose Mr Stidolph is neither but that cannot make it any easier for him to stomach.


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