Great Limpopo TFCA

Shashe irrigation scheme gets boost

Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa yesterday handed over electric fence worth R250 000 to Shashe Irrigation Scheme in Beitbridge district to help deter stray elephants from destroying crops in the fields.

The Peace Parks Foundation project manager, Mr Bradley Poole, said his organisation had to source funds following an outcry from local villagers who continued to lose crops to stray elephants from neighbouring Botswana.

“As partners and co-coordinators of the TFCAs, one of our action plans is to involve and support communities around TFCAs. Since Maramani is strategically located we realised that elephants were destroying crops at the Shashe Irrigation Scheme and therefore as part of that initiative we had to provide funds for the erection of an electric fence to deter the animals,” he said.

“Irrigation farming is vital, especially in this dry area where we have more failed crops hence the need to support the local community’s livelihood.”

Mr Poole said his organisation planned to revitalise the irrigation scheme, which is currently not operating at full capacity due to dysfunctional engine pumps. The scheme has 80 plot holders.

“We are also working on refurbishing the irrigation scheme following the breakdown of the pipes and the engine pumps and the canals, which were destroyed by elephants and this is in line with our second phase plan,” he said.

“You will realise that food protection is critical to the welfare of the community as that will also reduce conflict between people and animals and we are saying livelihood should be sustained to avoid such a situation where people end up poaching.”

The councillor for the area, Mr Luka Ndou, commended Peace Parks Foundation for the donation, saying it will go a long way in alleviating hunger, as people will now be able to realise more yields.

“Our people could not record bumper harvests because elephants continually destroyed their crops and therefore the donated fence will ensure that no elephant strays into the fields,” he said.

Shashe Irrigation is the largest irrigation scheme in the district with a total of 160ha. However, due to acute water shortages due to the constant break down of engine pumps, villagers had to reduce the area under farming to 80ha.

Meanwhile, the international co-ordinator of the Shashe-Limpopo TFCA, Mr Johan Verhoef, said there was a need for the opening up of more tourists crossing points to facilitate the free movement of tourists in the region.

“As Shashe-Limpopo TFCA we are working at ensuring that there are more crossing points for tourists. In fact, the development of TFCAs is aimed at facilitating that process so that tourists get unrestricted access to the beauty of the region and in future we will have more crossing points,” he said.

The governments of Zimbabwe and South Africa are working on establishing a border post at Mapungubwe and Chikwalakwala areas. However, lack of funds continues to hamper the two projects from taking off the ground.

The move is aimed at reducing congestion at Beitbridge Border Post, which continues to handle a huge influx of travellers passing through every day.

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