The Chron­i­cle

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

BU­L­AWAYO, Fri­day, Septem­ber 2, 1966 — Mata­bele­land’s arid back­yard near Beit­bridge is be­ing hailed a s an­other Hippo Val­ley.

A hand­ful of South Africa born farm­ers are turn­ing what was des­o­late veld into thou­sands of acres of lush ir­ri­gated land.

Thou­sands of rows of ex­port qual­ity cit­rus trees are said to yield more than the av­er­age South African trees. The qual­ity of the cot­ton is be­ing lauded as among the world’s top grade.

Veg­eta­bles un­der ir­ri­ga­tion now sprawl over hun­dreds of acres of formerly parched land. The six farm­ers, now all Rhode­sian cit­i­zens, bought the land for less than 10s an acre over the past 12 years. They now value the ir­ri­gated sec­tions at £200 an acre and the un­cleared, ir­ri­ga­ble land at £100 an acre. Yet the scheme is still in an em­bry­onic stage.

The se­cret of their tri­umph is their method of draw­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of gal­lons of wa­ter ev­ery hour from the beds of the Lim­popo and Umz­ing­wani Rivers. They call it the spi­der sys­tem — but by any other name the life­less rivers, weighted down with 30ft of sand, have been forced to yield their hid­den wealth of liq­uid.

Steel pipes grip the sand sur­face and reach down 15ft.There at the low­est level of the si­lent pools, the wa­ter is sucked through the pipes. It is drawn to the sur­face to gush along a maze of canals for flood ir­ri­ga­tion.

Three of the farm­ers, Mr S Ca­woood, Mr B Knott and Mr J Bris­tow, have ir­ri­gated more than 3 000 acres of land- en­tirely from pri­vate fi­nances. Liebig’s which saw the po­ten­tial of the land af­ter they sold 150 000 acres, stopped sell­ing three years ago.

A spokesman for the firm said it was now draw­ing 1 000 000 gal­lons of wa­ter a day from the dry bed of the Umz­ing­wani River, through the same spi­der sys­tem.

It is ir­ri­gat­ing sev­eral hun­dred acres of land while its long term plan is to make its ranches self sup­port­ing in cat­tle feed and in food for its labour force.

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