Green gives hope to Chipinge

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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