Takunda Maodza recently in Chisumbanje
ETHANOL producer Green Fuel has given 1 200 villagers in Chisumbanje irrigated smallholder plots, in a development that has changed the lives of many.
Chisumbanje is arid and villagers depend on small grains for survival.
Green Fuel public relations manager Mrs Merit Rumema told The Herald that when the company started the ethanol project, it had pledged to avail irrigated plots to the community.
“We made a pledge when the company started operations that of all the land we would develop and put under cane, we will give 10 percent of it to the community.
“Currently, we have given that land back to the community in the form of smallholder irrigated plots.
“This is Region Five, which is characterised by droughts and without water, farming is very difficult,” said Mrs Rumema.
She said the project had ensured food security at household level in Chisumbanje.
“We have handed over to the community a total of 1 200 plots.
“We provide them with irrigation systems and extension services.
“The project is yielding results as there is improved food security at household level and within the irrigated plots they are also growing cash crops.
“You find that in the last season there was lot of cotton and sugar beans as well as maize.
“We have some of the best cotton this season coming from the irrigated plots,” she said.
The company is also constructing a market place at Chisumbanje for the farmers.
“We realised that one of the weaknesses was that we had irrigation and farmers on the other hand, but we did not have concrete market relations.
“They would grow their crops and struggle to sell them.
“We are constructing a market and we hope it will be our own Mbare linking farmers to buyers who will buy at fair prices,” said Mrs Rumema.
Village head Mr Tapera Mandipanga said the irrigated smallholder plots had changed the face of Chisumbanje.
“Ever since we got these plots, our lives have changed.
“We used to rely on rain-fed agriculture and would harvest nearly nothing as we live in Region Five, but ever since we got the irrigated plots, we are realising bumper harvests.
“We harvest three times a year and are able to feed our families, and sell the surplus.
“As we speak, I have just harvested sugar beans and realised two tonnes,” said Mr Mandipanga.
It is his prayer that the project spreads across Chisumbanje.