MUTARE — War veterans, who invaded Jack Hulley Farm in Mutare South a few years ago, are making brisk business from selling exotic and indigenous trees as firewood, causing serious environmental degradation on the farm.
Report by Clayton Masekesa
Several truckloads of freshly cut wood are seen everyday being transported from the once productive farm to the city of Mutare for sale.
“It is so painful to note that the farm that was the hub of farming activities in Chigodora area is now in a sorry state,” said John Gosho, who lives near the farm.
“Those nice trees are no longer there.”
But Ariah Zamba, a well-known war veteran on the farm, vowed to continue chopping down the trees arguing that they would do whatever pleased them since the land belonged to them.
“This is our land and everything on it belongs to us. We fought for this country,” said Zamba.
“We are in the business of selling firewood and I do not even see what’s wrong with that. We want to feed our families as you know that there was a drought last season.”
He said a truck-load of firewood costs US$350 and a “code” (big bundle) goes for US$60 each.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) provincial environmental officer, Kingston Chitotombe said the agency was aware of the dire situation in Chigodora area and had approached all stakeholders in a bid to rectify the matter.
“We are working with various stakeholders including the local government, police and other relevant key ministries in order to control the situation,” he said.
EMA held a meeting with the farmers last month and explained to them the implications of cutting down trees on agriculture and the environment in general.
“We told them that the practice enhances siltation of rivers whose water is harnessed to irrigate various agricultural projects,” said Chitotombe.
“We hope that they will comply. Failure to do that, we will have to act through the courts.”
Protracted power outages, especially in urban areas and growth points, have led to an increased demand for alternative sources of energy such as firewood, paraffin and solar.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) recently launched an 18-hour load-shedding programme countrywide.
ZETDC said it was experiencing a power shortfall due to generation constraints at Hwange Power Station as well as low dispatch at the small thermal power stations.
The company said the power shortfall was being managed through load-shedding in order to balance power supply and demand.