Salima Sugar Company Limited has reportedly lost more than MK100 million this year due to illicit fires, vandalism and theft across its sugarcane farms.
The company, which is in partnership with the Government of Malawi through Green Belt Authority (GBA) in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, has 60 percent shares in the sugarcane growing and processing business stretching across 6000 hacters of land along the shores of lake Malawi in Salima District.
GBA Public Relations Officer, Maganizo Mazeze, condemned the arson, vandalism and theft in an interview with Nyasa Times– saying business cannot grow if such criminal acts continue.
Mazeze added that the development prompted Salima Sugar Company to call for an engagement meeting with traditional leaders around the sugarcane plantation in order to build a strong working relationship with villagers in protecting the plantation.
He said the meeting took place Wednesday at the company’s factory in Salima.
“During the meeting, the management of Salima Sugar Company requested the traditional leaders to regard the irrigation scheme as their own project and sensitize their subjects against vandalizing irrigation equipment, theft of property and setting fires to sugarcane farms.
“The management reminded the traditional leaders that business would grow with the support of the local community. They pledged to construct schools, a community technical college, a hospital and clinics and a community complex with facilities such as sports courts and community hall,” said Mazeze.
According to the GBA Spokesperson–the meeting was attended by Principal Secretary for Irrigation Sandram Maweru, Salima Sugar Company Limited Chairman Shirieesh Betgiri, Acting CEO for GBA Amon Mluwira, Senior Chief Khombedza, Traditional Authorities Mwanza, Makanjira and Kalonga and group village heads and village heads.
Mazeze also disclosed that Salima Sugar Company promised to employ up to 7000 people living around the plantation once the company obtains a loan from the European Union (EU) within the next few months to further develop the sugarcane plantation.
“The company is negotiating for a loan with the EU to develop part of its sugarcane farm. The company has a total of 6000 hacters but has only developed 1500 hacters so far. The EU has reportedly signalled it will give the loan to Salima Sugar Company in millions of dollars,” he said.
PS Maweru reportedly told the meeting that he is impressed with the company’s initiative to work with traditional leaders and villagers, saying this is the only way to go in order to protect the vast sugarcane plantation.
Meanwhile, TA Makanjira has also commended the company for deciding to work with chiefs and communities to stop arson, vandalism and theft of sugarcane–adding that he is already doing alot on his part to protect the plantation in his area.
“I already sent word to all group village heads and village heads under my jurisdiction to tell their subjects to desist from these criminal acts. It is pleasing that such acts have now decreased in my area. We will continue to protect the plantation,” TA Makanjira told Nyasa Times in an interview.
He pleaded with the company not to forget his area when considering the 7000 people for employment when the EU funded sugarcane plantation expansion project eventually rolls out.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :