Harare residents have sought the assistance of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to stop seed and fertilizer companies from cultivating in demonstration plots around the capital.
Residents concerned at destruction of wetlands
The residents, from various Community Based Organizations (CBOs), are concerned that the majority of the demonstration plots are located on wetland areas.
Wetlands are sources of water and the residents are concerned that urban farming is leading to destruction of the sources as well as increasing the cost of water purification due to fertilizers used by farmers.
On August 24, the Rugare Wetlands Association wrote to the EMA Director General Aaron Chagona seeking to block “illegal demonstration plots on the wetlands in Rugare by SeedCO and the Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company (ZFC).
Read part of the letter, “As the Rugare Wetlands Association, we have observed that illegal cultivation is occurring on the wetlands in Rugare.
“We have also observed that the majority of the maize fields present on the wetlands in Rugare are being used as demonstration plots by the Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company and by SeedCO.
These demonstration plots are encouraging cultivation on the wetlands yet according to the Environmental Management Act, it is illegal to cultivate on a wetland.”
The residents implored the EMA Director General to stop SeedCo and ZFC from establishing demonstration plots in Rugare.
EMA Spokesperson, Amukela Sidanke confirmed receipt of the letter adding that they are taking action against seed and fertilizer companies whose activities are detrimental to wetlands in the capital.
Seed Companies Prosecuted
“This past season, about six seed and fertilizer companies were prosecuted for setting up demonstration plots on wetlands in Harare alone”.
“We have plans to issue out environmental protection orders to avoid a repeat of this.
“We are going into the farming season and we are likely going to have such demonstration plots being set up in ecologically sensitive areas.
“It’s not wetlands alone because even stream banks are being used as demonstration plots,” said Sidanke.
She reminded residents that it is an offence to practice stream bank cultivation as well as farming on wetlands.
Sidanke urged the Harare City Council to play an active role in environmental protection.
Seedco says it’s complying
Seedco Public Relations Manager, Marjorie Mutemererwa said they were in receipt of the letter from Rugare Wetlands Association adding that they have since complied with the EMA directive.
“We got this communication from EMA. We have engaged EMA and we are in compliance,” said Mutemererwa.
Chairperson of Cleveland Action Alliance, a Community Based Organization based in Mabvuku, Jimmy Mahachi said degradation of wetlands as a result of urban cultivation was a cause for major concern in Harare.
Budiriro Water Foundation Chairperson, Claude Kaharo said the onus was on EMA and council to stop stream bank cultivation as well as cultivation on wetlands.