CHISUMBANJE — The multimillion dollar ethanol project in Chisumbanje is set to re-open after villagers and the company agreed on a wide range of issues meant to avert social disaster in Chipinge.
Agreed issues include the immediate release of farmers arrested recently over land dispute in Chinyamukwakwa area and the adoption of an interim agreement to give farmers half a hectare as ploughing land.
Since last year, Green Fuel which is running the ethanol project has been facing numerous challenges over the low take of ethanol. According to sources, this year alone the company is laying off 2 000 workers as a way of mitigating the challenges they are facing. The land issue in Chisumbanje has been the bone of contention since the initiation of the project as villagers contested their removal from the land which is under sugarcane plantation.
Addressing a Press conference after a marathon meeting with the community, civic society leaders and Green Fuel, the company spokesperson Lillian Muungani said they made assurances to the community over a number of issues to pave way for trust-building in the implementation of the project.
“The district ethanol project implementation committee reached consensus on a wide range of issues such as the immediate release of farmers arrested over land issues,” said Muungani.
“On the subject of irrigation development for the community by the company, it was agreed that 0,5 hectares be adopted as an interim arrangement while the committee is finalising an irrigation model to progress to 2 hectares in recognition of the different land sizes in the community. However, the land prepared for irrigation will be allocated from 0,5 hectares to two hectares while those with bigger land sizes will be given priority in the out grower development programmes,” she said. Last year, the interministrial Cabinet committee resolved to tackle the challenges dogging the Chisumbanje ethanol project.