Milk processor to spend US$10m compensating displaced villagers

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By Tonderai Saharo

KWEKWE based milk processor, Dendairy Pvt Ltd, has set aside US$10 million towards compensating thousands of villagers set to be removed from their ancestral lands to pave way for the country’s first ever grass farming industry in Masvingo.

Daryl Archibald, Dendairy Managing director, said his company has come up with the budget for a project that is going to turn one of the country’s driest regions into a green belt.

The company will draw water from Tokwe Mukosi Dam to try and turn the Lowveld into a productive district.

“The people living in this remote area are some of the poorest in Zimbabwe,” Archibald said.

“Government prioritised the construction of the Tokwe Mukosi dam.

“This project of national importance cost US$200m and was meant to revive the whole greater Masvingo area, unlocking vast tracks of land for irrigation.”

Archibald said the company will use the money to build a water canal which will be instrumental in irrigating over 300 hectares of land for the affected community.

There will also be a communal feedlot setup for fattening cattle.

“The project is significant with the canal alone costing US$10m.

“A year-round Lucerne feedlot which will allow for the community to keep their cattle herds alive and receive fair value for animals even in the midst of drought years,” he said.

The project will see the eviction of over 1 000 villagers in Chiredzi district after the company was granted permission to grow Lucerne grass on land measuring 6 000 hectares to be used as forage for dairy cows.

Archibald said the company was eyeing foreign markets once the project was up and running.

The idea has however not been welcomed by the local community which views the displacements as part of government’s efforts to disenfranchise the Shangani tribe, the majority in the area.