Heather Charema in Chegutu
Chegutu cotton ginning and oil ginning plant Agri Value Chain (AVC) Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd, which started operations last year, was on Monday gutted by fire which destroyed at least 2 635 tonnes of cotton seed.
In an interview with The Herald, AVC engineer and factory responsible person Mr Phanuel Moyo said the fire had been caused by combustion.
“The cotton seed has a tendency of building up heat inside the stacks and there is smouldering that goes unnoticed,” he said.
“We believe the fire was caused by a spontaneous combustion.
“We managed to contain the fire within 24 hours and, it is now 100 percent contained. We managed to contain it through the process of isolation, where we took the seed to places that had been burnt already. We are still working on the quantities that have been lost and those that we managed to save, so we will calculate and have the rightful figures soon.”
Chegutu district administrator Mr Tariro Tomu said the 2 635 tonnes of cotton seed had been lost by the time he enquired from the company.
“I had to visit AVC after receiving the news from social media and according to the information I got from the Human Resources Department. About six stacks had been burnt and that is about 2 635 tonnes, but they were still checking and calculating,” he said.
“They got hold of Kadoma, Norton and Chegutu town councils and Zimplats for fire tenders and they got positive response which assisted in the containment of the fire.”
Agri Value Chain (AVC) Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd has employed 400 people in Chegutu and took on board at least 40 former workers of the agro-focused firm, Cargill.
It has also acquired 51 percent stake in textile giant David Whitehead, which is under judicial management. It is producing 80 000 litres of crude oil which is supplied to cooking oil manufacturer, ZimGold.