MAPUTO, The low level of water in the Pequenos Libombos Dam, which supplies drinking water to the Mozambican capital, Mapouto, and its twin city, Matola, is compromising agricultural production in Boane district, west of Maputo.

The dam is the source of water for the treatment and pumping station on the Umbeluzi River which provides the drinking water for Maputo and Matola cities as well as for irrigated agriculture in the Umbeluzi Valley, a source of crops consumed by people in the two cities.

For the past year, there have been restrictions on the use of Pequenos Libombos water for agriculture, and these are unlikely to be lifted any time soon. The reservoir is currently at 20.14 per cent capacity, better than a year ago, when the level of the reservoir fell to 13 per cent, but still not enough to satisfy both agricultural needs and drinking water requirements.

The Boane District authorities had planned to produce crops, particularly vegetables, on an irrigated area of 40,000 hectares, but this is entirely dependent on the availability of water. We would like to produce throughout the year,” said the Boane District administrator, Teresa Mauaie. Our only fear is water, because it has not been raining well.

If it were raining regularly, we would by now have the Pequenos Libombos reservoir 50 per cent full. We are rather fearful. But if God hears us, and it rains, then we can comply with our plans, without any problems.”

Boane is a major supply of agricultural produce to Maputo and Matola. Without produce from Boane, the two cities are increasingly dependent on imports from South Africa and Swaziland.

The authorities have prioritised the use of Pequenos Libombos water for drinking requirements. As from January 2017, a scheme has been in force limiting the pumping of water from the Umbeluzi treatment station.

The current rainy season ends in March and unless there is heavy rainfall upstream, the restrictions on the use of Umbeluzi water will continue.