A SIGH of relief could be seen on the faces of scores of villagers gathered at the handover ceremony of one of the several community boreholes drilled by a local company, Green Fuel, in the Matikwa area near Chisumbanje on Tuesday.
OBEY MANAYITI,STAFF REPORTER
Chisumbanje falls under climatic region five and naturally harvest yields of crops like maize are very minimal.
Besides the good soils suitable for the plantation of sugar cane, villagers have been experiencing perennial droughts and as such were forced to trade off their valuable livestock for maize as a mitigatory measure to the biting famine.
Besides their disgruntlement when Green Fuel came into a joint investment with Arda over land, compensation and others, villagers are set to immensely benefit from the investor’s community irrigation scheme.
Under the scheme, the villagers will receive 0,5 hectares of irrigated land where they will plant crops of their choice as many times as they would want throughout the year.
However, the bickering that rocked the ethanol production for the past two years has had a negative impact on the villagers as they could not access the irrigated land and some were rendered jobless and hence food scarcity remained a challenge. With just over four months after the ethanol plant resumed running again, signs of improvement of the community’s livelihood are evidently clear.
“There is a very great positive impact on people’s lives now and the future looks very bright,” said Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi.
“We fall under climatic region five and our only hope lies in irrigation. We are blessed with the black soils which are fertile but without water, it will be a repeat of the sad history of perennial famine in this area.
“The irrigation schemes on the main fields will definitely change our people’s lives. Then there are boreholes again drilled in each village.
“As a result villagers can now do gardening at a large scale as water is now readily available unlike in the past where people had to walk for long distances with ox-drawn scotchcarts to access water.”
Matikwa villagers told NewsDay that they used to walk for a distance of about 10km to access water.
“Our situation here has been dire ever since. I grew up here knowing that we get our water from Save River which is about 10km away from here,” said Stanley Chishuwo .
“It was then difficult to fully commit ourselves to the fields, save for cotton, because the crops would just wilt due to lack of water.
“Now that we have easy access to water, I think our history of famine will be a thing of the past,” adding that the boreholes would also be useful to their animals,” Chishuwo said.
Women have formed clubs in respect of gardening and other small-scale income-generating projects. There is the Batanai and the Yevedzai clubs.
“We are producing vegetables for the company and our neighbours. For the period that we have been doing this, we can now supplement our family needs and send our children to school,” said Tendai Chidhakwa.
“It’s promising to be a viable business for us therefore we want a green market, a proper selling point, to increase our revenue.
“We are also looking into poultry, piggery and also the possibility of venturing into bakeries.”
Both Green Fuel project coordinator Leticia Morta and headman Clemence Matikwa urged the villagers to take proper care of the boreholes and put them to good use.
The company’s spokesperson Lillian Muungani also said there were several projects lined up to uplift the communities.
She noted that the bickering that was there before the government finally agreed to mandatory blending impacted negatively on the projects they had lined up for the community.
“There is a massive social responsibility blueprint based on rehabilitating social service institutions by empowering the community through the setting-up of community-run enterprises modelled around the developmental needs of the area,” said Muungani.
Currently Green Fuel produces an average of 200 000 litres of ethanol and plans are afoot to raise the daily capacity to 250 000.