US$40m sugarcane project takes shape

From George Maponga in Masvingo
The US$40 million Kilimanjaro Project in Chiredzi is on track with the clearing of over 3 000 hectares ahead of schedule.

The project, which was commissioned by President Mnangagwa last month, is being developed by Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ) in conjunction with some of the country’s leading banks.

Over 4 000 hectares of arable land will be turned into cane plantations at Hippo Valley Estates for allocation to indigenous people.

Initial projections indicated that the project would be complete by November 2020.

However, Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said the project was ahead of schedule with allocation of plots expected by February 2020.

He said clearing of land was complete with planting now underway.

“The project is going according to plan and we expect to start allocating the planted land around end of January or February next year,” he said.

“We are very happy with the progress as Government, especially considering that the company has already cleared the land paving the way for planting.”

Tongaat floated the tender for land clearing to over a dozen local companies, a move hailed for promoting local firms.

Kilimanjaro Project has been touted as an indication of the confidence that big international firms have in the direction in which President Mnangagwa is taking the country.

President Mnangagwa has repeatedly assured investors that the country was open for business with Government pulling all the stops to making sure Zimbabwe was the investment destination of choice in line with the quest to transform the economy into an upper middle income status by 2030.

After completion of Kilimanjaro Project, Zimbabwe’s aggregate sugar output is expected to surge by 50 000 tonnes earning the country an additional US$18 million in forex annually while creating 2 000 direct jobs.

Ethanol production is also expected to shoot up reducing the country’s fuel import bill.

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