From George Maponga in Masvingo
The Zimbabwe Bio Energy has announced plans to set up Zimbabwe’s third ethanol plant at the Nuanetsi ranch in Mwenezi where the firm wants thousands of local villagers to start farming sugar cane using water from Tokwe-Mukosi dam.
Tokwe-Mukosi,which will become Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam, is expected to be completed in August this year and has the capacity to irrigate over 25 000hactares.
ZBE, which is a joint venture between the Development Trust of Zimbabwe and a group of private investors, says the opening of an ethanol plant at Nuanetsi will create over 5 000 direct jobs. At least 2 000 small-scale sugar cane farmers around the area will benefit by supplying their crop to the ethanol plant.
DTZ resident director for Nuanetsi Mr Charles Madonko today said over 2 500 families relocated to the area from the Tokwe-Mukosi dam basin in Chivi would also become cane out-growers for the ethanol plant.
Mr Madonko said ZBE had always wanted to tap into Tokwe-Mukosi dam by opening an ethanol plant at Nuanetsi.
“Consultations over the proposed ethanol plant at Nuanetsi are currently ongoing with relevant government structures and we have managed to identify investors who are upbeat about moving into Nuanetsi to start an ethanol plant.
“‘The ethanol plant was initially earmarked for Masvingo even before the one in Chisumbanje was opened but limited water supplies made opening a plant at Chisumbanje viable because of abundant water in Save River. However, with the impending completion of Tokwe-Mukosi there is now scope for an ethanol plant at Nuanetsi,” he said.
Mr Madonko said ZBE was encouraged by a recent call by Vice President Joice Mujuru for local companies to consider investing in ethanol production at Nuanetsi taking advantage of Tokwe-Mukosi dam.
During her tour of Chingwizi holding camp at Nuanetsi over a week ago, Vice President Mujuru challenged the Masvingo political leadership to start exploring the possibility of using Tokwe-Mukosi water to produce eco-friendly fuels like ethanol taking advantage of abundant but underutilised land in the Lowveld.
“We were very encouraged by what Vice President Mujuru said with regards to the potential for ethanol production at Nuanetsi. The Vice President(Mujuru) has already made a clarion call for an ethanol industry in Mwenezi as a basis for irrigation development for commercial cane farming as well as community irrigation schemes along the Chisumbanje model,”added Mr Madonko.
He, however appealed to government to stop the haphazard and illegal resettlement by landless villagers in the Nuanetsi ranch amid reports that dozens of village heads had turned into land barons by selling plots in the area.
Youths in Mwenezi and surrounding areas have already warmed up to the idea of opening an ethanol plant at Nuanetsi saying the move will greatly reduce the great trek to South Africa by unemployed young people while at the same time creating a conurbation stretching from Chiredzi to Rutenga.
The blueprint for the Nuanetsi ethanol project shows that ZBE intends to set up an ethanol factory similar to the one at Chisumbanje.Tongaat Hullet owns another ethanol at Triangle.