GOVERNMENT has applauded Allied Timbers of Zimbabwe’s efforts in empowering the rural communities it operates in through employment creation and self-sustaining projects.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Nokhutula Matsikenyere cited developments at Cashel Estate where ATZ is constructing a high-tech sawmill that will immensely benefit local communities.
She said this in a speech read on her behalf by the Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Edgars Seenza, at the end of year party recently thrown for traditional leaders in Mutare.
“We have learnt that most of the workforce is drawn from the local communities. At Cashel Estate, ATZ is also constructing a high technology sawmill, which on completion by midyear 2022 will employ scores of people in the sawmill chain, sorting, destocking, harvesting and haulaging.
“I am told you are also looking at building another state-of-art sawmill at Nyangui beginning the third quarter of year 2022. Many developments are being achieved by Allied Timbers,” said Minister Matsikenyere.
ATZ has an out-grower scheme encompassing the Nyatate area in Nyanga.
It is expected to spread to Mhakwe, Gwendingwe, Mapiravana and Chirumhanzu, among other areas, beginning this month.
Each area will receive seedlings to cover 0.5 hectares.
Each planted area will also receive technical support from ATZ.
This is a beneficiation project that will see communities benefiting from the well maintained plantations.
ATZ chief executive officer, Mr Remigio Nenzou said: “Our CSR programme acknowledges traditional leaders as the custodians of the land and forests in which we operate in.
“We started our efforts by inviting you to the traditional leaders’ beekeeping training programme. This was the first ever training programme for chiefs in the country. The programme was our first out-reach to impart knowledge to you so that you can go back to your subjects and train them. We gave you starter packs for the project as well.
“We are happy that you went back and created groups, trained and helped them set up beehives. Our aim is to improve community relations.
“We are also investing in the formation of fire brigades to combat and minimise veld fires so that we can collectively depend on the forest for our livelihoods. We need your help to ensure that the communities surrounding our estates develop a sense of business and ownership. If estates are razed down by fires or other disruptions from the communities, there will be no timber to talk about. Traditional leaders therefore need to campaign against invasions, fire outbreaks and other social ills like gold panning,” said Mr Nenzou.
Chiefs Saunyama, Mutema, Muusha, Chikukwa and Zimunya were among those who attended the event.