Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Ex-mine workers turn to sugarcane farming

Ex-mine workers turn to sugarcane farming


IMPOVERISHED Shabanie Mine workers who have been scavenging for coal abandoned after the closure of Zesa Holdings’ thermal power station in Zvishavane have resorted to sugarcane farming using waste water pumped from the waterlogged mine.


The workers have turned land belonging to the asbestos mine meant for mine waste dump into a huge sugarcane plantation with over 100 families benefiting from the project.

One of the pioneers of the sugarcane project, Saidi Chinyoka, said the idea of a plantation came after coal that people scrounged for was exhausted as uncertainty over Shabanie Mine’s revival deepened.

“After the coal got finished, the land was left as an open ground, hence I decided with a few other people to start a sugarcane plantation making use of a canal that carries Shabanie Mine underground water to Shavi River,” Chinyoka said.

With the aid of James Hove, who had a small sugarcane plantation a few metres away, Chinyoka started a co-operative and a number of Shabanie Mine employees joined the project.

“We had a sugarcane farming expert (Hove) who gave us ideas and we developed the arid land into what you can witness today,” he said.

A beneficiary of the sugarcane plantation, Francis Tabinga, said the area was a complete bush and poverty gave them the impulse to clear it.

Tabinga said canals that diverted water from the mine’s waste water line into their fields were dug.

“When you are immersed in dire poverty, you can do anything, hence a huge piece of land that was meant for asbestos waste in future mining ventures at Shabanie has been turned into a plantation,” Tabinga said.

The project has created employment for the locals, including women and children, who assist in harvesting the crop for sale at markets across the Midlands province.

Zvishavane Senator Lillian Timveos applauded the project and promised to seek assistance from the government for inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides, among other things, to further boost production.

“As you know, it’s six or seven years since the mine (Shabanie) closed and workers have been living as destitutes, but this project is surely a life saver, not only for the workers alone, but the community as a whole,” Timveos said.

“I am rest assured that the government shall do something to assist this project in line with ZimAsset.”



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