Masvingo Bureau — Government has issued nearly 150 offer letters to new A2 sugar cane farmers allocated plots at Hippo Valley and Triangle sugar cane estates.
This brings to 1 000 the number of indigenous people now into commercial cane production since the inception of the land reform programme over a decade ago. Three Chiredzi chiefs namely Sengwe, Tshovani and Gudo whose subjects had for long protested against their exclusion from sugar cane farming in the Lowveld are among those who were given the offer letters.
The new farmers were issued with offer letters after Government entered into an agreement with sugar cane growing giant Tongaat Hullet to develop nearly 4 000 hectares of virgin land at Hippo Valley and Triangle estates into sugar cane plots.
Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke yesterday confirmed that 150 offer letters were recently issued to indigenous players.
He said each of the beneficiaries would get about 20 hectares.
"Tongaat Hullet offered to develop nearly 4 000 hectares of virgin land at Hippo Valley and Triangle that will be demarcated into individual plots for the beneficiaries and the project will be done on a cost recovery basis,"he said.
Governor Maluleke said they were now working on repayment modalities to make sure that the new beneficiaries were not left vulnerable in the repayment plan.
"Tongaat Hullet will develop the land and plant the initial cane and will recover its money from the beneficiaries but we are working on a deal that does not suffocate the new cane farmers," said Governor Maluleke.
"We want them to be able to repay their loans but at the same time be able to pay their workers to earn a living from cane farming and that is the deal we are working on right now."
Under the deal, Governor Maluleke said, Tongaat Hullet would develop the land build irrigation canals and plant the cane and would recover its money from the beneficiaries over a certain period. Land planning has already been completed and actual development is expected to start anytime soon.