HomePoliticsGovt's winter maize project in disarray

Govt’s winter maize project in disarray

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT’S ambitious winter maize project has been thrown into disarray after Hippo Valley and Triangle Ltd refused to participate, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

Experts last year said the hugely publicised experiment was a waste of resources and bound to fail.

Masvingo provincial administrator Alfonse Chikurira confirmed that the government project has been stalled.

“The two companies retained their land,” Chikurira said. “Government had to turn to the Nuanetsi land where we have planted 160 hectares at the moment and land preparation is still going on.”

Anglo American Corporation spokesman Ezra Kanganga said Hippo Valley, an Anglo subsidiary, had no arrangements to spare any land for government’s winter maize project.

“The winter maize which is being grown at Hippo Valley Estates is to supplement the food requirements of employees of companies in the Anglo American Group and their families,” said Kanganga.

Triangle Ltd had not responded to written questions from the Independent by yesterday.

Hippo Valley and Triangle Ltd, two multinational companies growing sugarcane in the Lowveld, have reutilised the land used to produce the crop last year.

Last year the two companies were forced to grow about 1 600ha of maize on their sugar cane lands. The total yield of this crop, which reportedly averaged 2,7 tonnes a hectare under irrigation, was far lower than the predicted five tonnes a hectare.

It was reported last year that the two companies donated scarce inputs such as fertiliser, fuel and power to produce the maize crop which was only enough to feed the nation for a day.

Government ended up producing only 6 000 tonnes from the 1 600 hectares instead of the minimum 18 000 tonnes it had hoped for.

Last year the government took Zambian president Levi Mwanawasa to the south-eastern Lowveld to show-off the winter maize crop.

Sources said government has not yet recorded tangible progress on the Nuanetsi irrigation project, also mooted last year.

Under the project, government has contracted a Chinese company, China International Water and Electric Corporation, to develop 100 000 hectares of land in a deal it says will lead to Zimbabwe being restored as southern Africa’s breadbasket.

So far only 260 hectares have been cleared of which 160 hectares are ready for planting.

The success of the project however depends on the completion of the Tokwe Mukosi Dam whose completion has been deferred as government does not have money to pay the contractors.

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