Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Green gives hope to Chipinge

Green gives hope to Chipinge

Written by Fungi Kwaramba
Sunday, 07 November 2010 16:24

CHISUMBANJE – A project called Green has given hope to the Ndau people and
the surrounding communities in Chipinge who have been staying in an arid
area where everyone never thought anything good could come out of the place.

The project, which will see the production of ethanol with the aim of making
fuel and electricity, has given smiles to the once forgotten society as more
than 3500 jobs have so far been created.

Sugar cane will be used to produce ethanol and some analysts have described
the project as a beacon of hope for the country’s agriculture.  Investors
pumped US$270 million in the project and are confident they will recoup all
their money in 10 years time.

“We would like to produce ethanol by March next year and we would like the
project to help in providing fuel to the country. Apart from fuel production
we would also want to produce electricity that we will use for our ethanol
plant,” said Graeme Smith, the Managing Director of Green.

In 2008 government owned Agriculture and Rural Development Authority, which
owns Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi Estates, where sugar cane production has
taken off already, embarked on a turnaround drive to find investment
partners to rehabilitate its properties.

Passionate farmers whose land had been seized by the government of Zimbabwe
during the Land Reform programme came into the project. They agreed with
ARDA on a 20 year Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Agreement.

About 40 000 hectares of cane will be developed in Chisumbanje with the
balance cultivated in Middle Sabi.

In an area that is shunned by investors because of the climatic conditions,
there was little hope for the people there. Many, like thousands of
Zimbabweans, have migrated to South Africa.

The investments in Chipinge have created over 3500 jobs and there are
prospects for more.

“Chisumbanje ethanol project has to date created more than 3500 jobs in
rural Chipinge in the agricultural and construction region. The bulk of the
employees are local villagers who have previously in the most arid corner of
the country, we have some foreign employees who are training the locals at
the end of the day we would like the local people to manage the project,”
said Smith.

The company is presently selling mature cane to Triangle Sugar Industries as
it has failed to meet the envisaged September deadline for the completion of
the plant.

“We have had to sell the produce to Triangle otherwise the cane could go
bad. At the moment we are 30% through with the project that we started in
May this year. We are going to start in March.”

The people in the area said the project was something worth celebrating
because it had improved their standard of living. Dilapidated houses had
been renovated and people in the vicinity of the estates were set to benefit
from the irrigation scheme projects.

“Villagers are not going to be relocated rather they would be integrated
into the project as sugar cane growers while those who do not want to grow
sugar would be free to produce their own chosen crop,” said Smith.

Despite the ray of hope there is still uncertainty on the part of investors.

“We have had a few people coming to invest in the project and we have
received positive feedback however there is still insecurity. But we would
like to show people what the project can do. Our project confirms to the
laws of the country.”


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