Green Fuel to support sugarcane farmers

HARARE - Ethanol producer Green Fuel will this season provide land to produce sugarcane to a hundred local farmers as the Billy Rautenbach-owned firm moves in to defuse tensions from villagers demanding compensation for lost land.

This follows an emotionally-charged public hearing held with the Chisumbanje community last week by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth, Indegenisation and Economic Empowerment where villagers accused Rautenbach of being reluctant to fulfil undertakings he made at the plan’s inception.

Enock Porusingazi, the local MP whom the villagers accuse of being sympathetic to the investor  however, confirmed that as an MP he had been informed by Green Fuel that they would “empower the community by allowing them to also grow sugarcane on the plots”.

Villagers claimed the ethanol project, which was initially expected to cover only 6 000 hectares of Arda land in Chisumbanje, had now taken more than 40 000 hectares belonging to them without compensation.

Villagers told the committee chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena that Green Fuel had gone beyond its legal development boundaries thereby posing a serious threat to their livelihoods.

The committee was gathering evidence from the community to get an appreciation of how they were benefiting from the giant investment.

With the backing of local war veterans and chiefs; the villagers have increasingly become militant threatening “war” on the project.

Porusingazi said the investor should do more to ensure that the project benefits the community by capacitating them.

“The community has always supported the investment as long as it was of tangible benefit to them.

“We are happy Green Fuel wants to give land but we want it to come to pass because it is the investor who must put more effort in meeting his side of the bargain so the community can start to enjoy the benefits of the investment rather than endure its presence,” said Porusingazi.

He called upon the community not to politicise the issue of compensation saying they must unite and speak with one voice.

Porusingazi insisted that his interest in the project was to see it benefit the community through development projects.

“I have been accused of being in the investor’s pocket but my position has been to support the full compensation of the villagers.

“Maybe we have differed on the approach but I have been engaging Green Fuel over the issue but could not come and announce a deal to the people before it was finalised.

“Now that I have something to say although it still is not enough, I can be able to say this is what we have managed so far,” he said.

Green Fuel spokesperson Lilian Muungani was said to be out when the Daily News on Sunday sought official confirmation.

Some villagers who have already been given land by Green Fuel however, complained during the visit by Parliament that the land was too small for their subsistence farming.

Those who are into sugarcane production also complained about the company’s low $4 per tonne buying price against the normal price of $60 saying it does not make sense.

    Comments (1)

    This reference to 40,000ha of land being used is not correct, the sugarcane in Chisumbanje only covers approximately 5,500ha - you journalists need to check your facts before you publish your stories

    Samson Moyo - 22 July 2014

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