Participants at the recently held soil and water conservation policy stakeholder consultations conducted by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development have agreed to incorporate local leadership including traditional leaders in the fight to conserve soil and water as key natural resources.
They said as the country is facing high rates of soil erosion mostly at 50 tonnes per hectare every year, there is a need for the country to come up with a policy conservation of soil and water.
National Acting Director of the Department of Agricultural Engineering Mechanization and Soil Conservation Herbert Gutu who was representing Chief Director Engineer Edwin Zimhunga said the consultations were initiated by high rates of siltation taking place in rivers and dams reducing the water holding capacity of dams.
“We have realized the high rate of siltation in our rivers with soil erosion rate at 50t/ha in some areas is affecting the water holding capacity of our dams which eventually affects the sustenance of livelihoods.
“Having realized this, the ministry has just started a soil conservation blitz this year intending to ensure that everyone has access to services for designing, pegging and conservation works with the ministry availing 30 tractors for the country’s 10 provinces to ensure every piece of agricultural land or not has conservation works on it to reduce the effects of soil erosion,” said Gutu.
Masvingo Ministry of Agriculture Provincial Director Aaron Muchazivepi challenged traditional leadership to play their role in soil and water conservation.
“Local village heads and Headmen are supposed to spearhead these programmes (soil conservation blitz) for people to be able to take up the programmes,” said Muchazivepi.
One participant pointed out the need to ensure local or traditional leadership play roles towards such initiatives.
“Local government has traditional leaders who are mostly responsible for parceling out land especially in rural areas hence the need to have them on board in making decisions to do with soil and water conservation,” said one of the participants.
Major causes of soil erosion raised at the meeting include stream bank cultivation and veld fires which cause the loosening of soil particles and eventually soil erosion.
Another participant also stressed the need to implement policies formulated for success of the programmes.
“Whatever we put on paper must be implemented, the Tugwi-Mukosi feasibility report was made some few years back but we still have people farming in the buffer zones which has ended up in some rivers feeding in to the dam heavily silted so there’s need for implementation after formulating policies,” said another participant.
As climate change continues to take toll, there is need for more efforts from all stakeholders to conserve natural resources like water hence the call to make conservation works compulsory in farming as well as natural resources like forests.
The consultation meeting is one of the many that are being held nationwide in order to come up with the first draft of soil and water conservation policy.