Traditional leaders, war veterans and the Chisumbanje community have raised concern over issues of raw sugarcane underpayments to farmers and the undervaluing of tonnage supplied by local sugarcane farmers.

Local sugarcane farmers in Chisumbanje who supply GreenFuel with cane under an agreement with the country’s sole ethanol producer have raised concern over underpayments stating that they are being given a paltry $4 per tonne thus deliberately belittling the number of tonnes delivered to the ethanol plant.

Speaking at a meeting between war veterans, ARDA chairperson, Joint Operations Command (JOC) members and GreenFuel company representatives in Chisumbanje, sugarcane farmers and war veterans said the project is not fully benefiting the local community.

“The $4 per tonne buying price of cane is a mockery to us and should be reviewed up as we urge the ethanol producer to desist from belittling the tonnage of raw sugarcane deliveries. The company slashes maize fields whenever farmers utilise idle land under the company’s control while not much is being done under the company’s corporate social responsibility arm,” said the farmers.

ARDA board chairperson Mr Basil Nyabadza said the concerns have been noted and efforts are now being made to ensure the issues are addressed.

“We came to assess and listen to the community were a number of issues were raised that include the unfair prices and failure by the company to meet its obligations and i assure you government will attend to the submissions,” said Mr Nyabadza.

The GreenFuel project was started during the country’s hyper inflationary environment to bring hope not only to the country in reducing the import bill of fuel but also to empower the local community in Checheche whose land was ceded to ensure the important project is a success.

The locals said the deteriorating relationship with the company is growing yet the plant should assist the local community that also raised concern over why electricity generated at the plant is sold to Chiredzi and not to the Chisumbanje community where the company operates from.

Calls were also raised for the ethanol producer to increase corporate social responsibility programmes.