A $500 000 winter maize project funded by sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett, is set to avert food shortages in the drought-prone Masvingo Province.
By Tatenda Chitagu
The project aims to produce an estimated 1 300 metric tonnes of the staple grain by October.
Sitting on a 329-hectare plot, it was launched Wednesday after the sugar producer heeded government’s request to help in the fight against looming hunger.
The project is the second such initiative after government launched another one at the height of the 1990 food shortages.
Tongaat chief executive officer Sydney Mtsambiwa said proceeds from the maize project would benefit underprivileged families in the Lowveld area.
“Tongaat Hulett operations in Zimbabwe entered into a joint partnership project with the government to implement an emergency winter maize project for the alleviation of severe hunger in the region,” he said.
“The project was initiated after a request was received from government to assist with the food shortages rocking the province.
“Planting started this week and disadvantaged families from the community are to benefit from the project, although we stand guided by the government.
“This is part of our corporate social responsibility and ongoing socio-economic development initiatives which is among many that we have implemented over the years.”
Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe, who was the guest of honour at the launch, said proceeds from the project should benefit local communities.
“I once initiated the same project here in 1990 and we helped feed the whole country,” he said.
“Tongaat did the same in 1990 and we are happy the company is still committed.
“This time around, the Chiredzi community should benefit so that it is self-sufficient and removed from the national radar in terms of food shortages and government will thus concentrate on other affected areas.”
Mutsambiwa said Tongaat had invested $649 080 towards food security initiatives that include the resuscitation of several irrigation schemes among them Lauder in Gutu, Lapachi in Mwenezi; St Joseph in Gudo communal lands and Chilonga in Chiredzi.
The company said it also plans to resuscitate damd and Chilonga cattle feedlot in Chiredzi.