THE US$450M BIRI DAM, WITH a storage capacity of 174M litres, stands idle in Mashon-aland West, following land seizures which have brought commercial farming in regions of Zimbabwe to a standstill. Water from the dam would have been used for irrigation by 68 commercial farms in the Banket, Chinhoyi and Rafingora areas.

Commercial farmers financed the construction of the dam through a consortium, the Biri Combined Irrigation Scheme. Now, of the 68 farms that are shareholders in the dam construction, 41 are listed for acquisition and farmers are being ordered to leave their farms within the next three months. Half of the farms have completely ceased production, while the others are operating at below 20%.