By Clayton Masekesa
MARANGE – The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Companies (ZCDC) has partnered with villagers in ward 30, Mukwada village to establish a horticulture project that is set to improve the livelihoods of community members.
The project is being initiated by Bocha Diamond Community Trust (BDCT), a community based organization and ZCDC through its corporate social responsibility programme.
The project is set to empower and sustain lives of more than 300 families who were displaced to pave way for diamond farming.
Currently there is a harvest of a healthy bean crop under 2.5 hectors.
In an interview on the sidelines of a media tour of the projects in Mukwada village recently, the BDCT Director Moses Mukwada said they decided to embark on the projects as a way of empowering the villagers.
“We decided to have this project after realizing that the villagers were not directly benefitting from the diamonds. We also realized that it is dangerous to become illegal panners. So we wanted to change the game by embarking on horticulture,” said Mukwada.
“We wanted to avoid being beggars by always writing letters to ZCDC requesting for assistance. So these projects are a sign that we want to be self reliant,” he said.
ZCDC will buy the bulk of the produce and it will be used in the canteens at the mine and Harare head office.
Mukwada said the members will also benefit from the project as they will buy the produce at reasonable prices. He said they will also supply the produce to schools in Marange top boost the children’s nutrition.
“We want to thank ZCDC for providing us with a tractor that cultivated the land for the planting of the beans. We are looking forward to having such partnerships,” he said.
“We are looking forward to partnering other stakeholders and companies to achieve our wider goals. Yes, ZCDC has chipped in by providing a tractor that tilled the land for us,” said Mukwada.
ZCDC Public Relations and Community Development Manager Sugar Chagonda said the horticulture project has capacitated and enabled the community to sustain their livelihoods beyond the lifespan of the diamond mine.
“As a company we are happy with this approach, which is certainly bearing fruit. We are happy with the approach as we make sure communities benefit from these projects,” added Chagonda.
“Corporate social responsibility forms part of our main strategic pillars as an organization. ZCDC holds in high regard, the balance between, community, nation and corporate stakeholder interests in the execution of its business,” he said.
The BDCT horticulture project is an motivation to many in the community.
The success it has brought shines everyday as the beneficiaries have become a light for others in the Marange community.