ETHANOL producer, Green Fuel, has rolled out a community empowerment programme in which households will get 0,5-hectare plots under irrigation in villages around Chipinge South constituency where it operates.
In a show of commitment to empowering locals, the firm officially handed over the 0,5ha plots to some of the beneficiaries last week during a colourful ceremony held at the company premises.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba officiated at the event where 350 households from Mutumburi, Muyondozi, Vhutuza, Manyanga, Masunde and Chisumbanje villages received the 0,5ha plots.
In her speech, Minister Gwaradzimba said she had heard that there were some complaints concerning Green Fuel operations, but she felt the community and the company ought to co-exist as the ethanol project was of strategic importance to Government.
“It is a fact that the ethanol project has gone a long way in alleviating fuel shortages,” she said.
“Fuel makes the economy tick. We have to appreciate the good work that Green Fuel is doing. As Government we know that people are very important, but at the same time we want development.
“I thank Green Fuel for empowering the people. Irrigation will put an end to starvation. Our MP, Cde Enock Porusingazi, has pleaded with Government for food aid and we will not let people down, but this irrigation project will greatly alleviate food shortages.
“It should be stated that beneficiaries must be bonafide residents of this area. I am told there would be drip irrigation for future beneficiaries and that’s a step in the right direction.’’
Provincial chairperson of the Command Agriculture, Mrs Phillipa Rwambiwa, urged the farmers to work hard, adding that the Chisumbanje weather was suitable for maize growing.
“Let’s maintain the farm,” she said. “One may brush aside 0,5ha as insignificant, but importantly, watch ants as they work and you would see why it is important to work hard.
Be warned that there is the fall army worm. It is crucial to work with Arex officers.’’
Speaking at the same function, Green Fuel representative Miss Merit Rumema said the company provided the beneficiaries with seeds and fertiliser.
“In the first and second phases we gave the irrigable land and did not give the farmers help in these areas,” she said.
“However, this time around, we have put in place two demonstration plots which are going to be manned by Arex officers, who in turn will give technical help to the farmers.
“Not everyone will benefit at once, but this is a process. The company will continue to give plots until the whole list is exhausted. More acres will soon be availed to the villagers.’’
Treasurer of the local interim committee, Cde James Maposa, said the community welcomed the project, saying it is of national importance and also believed that the people should benefit more from the electricity that Green Fuel produces.
“You can see that there are no more trees around here,” he said.
“Why doesn’t Green Fuel help the surrounding community with electricity as the firewood shortage is biting hard?’’
Mr Tobias Danda Mutumburi, a village head, welcomed the company’s initiative.