The Sunday Mail
HARARE City Council plans to slash maize planted on undesignated land amid concerns chemicals from fertilisers used by farmers are contaminating the city’s water sources.
There are also fears over alleged crimes taking place under the cover of the maize fields.
City of Harare’s public relations manager Mr Michael Chideme warned residents last week that “the law will take its course”.
Most of the crop planted late last year, has reached tussling stage and will be ready for harvesting soon.
City by-laws prohibit planting crops on undesignated land.
“The law will take its course on people who are growing crops on undesignated areas in the city,” said Mr Chideme.
He could not divulge when the exercise, which is likely to be controversial, would begin. An official in the city’s urban planning department told The Sunday Mail that there were growing concerns over the environmental damage caused by haphazard urban agriculture.
“There were deliberations within council and it was agreed that all maize planted in areas which are not designated for agriculture must be removed,” said the official, who elected to remain anonymous.
“Council is now concerned with the environmental degradation caused by haphazard urban agriculture.”
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Mr Precious Shumba said the city should clamp down on urban agriculture before planting begins.
“If the City of Harare did not approve of urban agriculture in undesignated places, they should have deployed sufficient manpower to warn residents against tillage in those areas,” said Mr Shumba.
“They should not have allowed the crop to reach maturity stage.
“The city should just leave the crop as it is because it is contributing to household food security for struggling urban families.
“Harare should develop a clear programme of support to smallholder farmers and designate land for urban farming.”
Environmentalist Mr Kindness Maridza of Conserve Africa said urban farming has resulted in contamination of raw water sources.
“There is increased siltation of our rivers or raw water sources, in particular Lake Chivero, Seke and Harava dams, thereby reducing their capacity,” said Mr Maridza.
“This is mainly caused by urban agriculture.
“Some residents are using fertilisers, which affect water treatment processes, making water production more expensive.”
Urban farming is major a source of food security for some households in cities around the country.