Maputo — Although the company GS-Holding has been allowed to reopen its food processing factories in the northern Mozambican port of Nacala, it has run into further difficulties with its forestry operations in Mossuril district.
According to a report in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", GS-Holding's licence to exploit firewood has been cancelled, because it was being used to cut down cashew trees.
Firewood is the fuel used in the furnaces of a GS-Holding vegetable oil factory, and in January the company was granted a licence allowing it to use 264 cubic metres of firewood. But instead of cutting down tees of no economic value, GS-Holdings opted to persuade peasants from the Mossuril locality of Matibane to sell it wood from cashew trees.
The Mossuril district government realized what was going on when it had to cancel its programme to spray cashew trees against fungal infestions in Matibane. There were not enough cashew trees left in the locality to make the spraying programme viable.
GS-Holding paid the derisory sum of 200 to 300 meticais (seven to 11 US dollars) per cashew tree to the farmers. To fill a six tonne truck, Matibane peasants would cut down four or five cashew trees.
A GS-Holding manager, Rafik Rajaussene, admitted to "Noticias" that the company was using cashew and mango trees, rather than trees of no economic value. But he claimed GS-Holding was only buying old cashew trees which the local people freely sold. Furthermore, GS-Holding was committed to replacing these trees, and purchased seedlings from the National Cashew Institute (INCAJU) to distribute among the peasant farmers.
The Economic Activities Services in the Mossuril District Government does not believe this story, and told "Noticias" there was no sign of any replacement of the cashew trees cut down.
The district government felt it had to suspend the GS-Holding licence "before the situation reaches catastrophic levels".
On 2 November, during an unannounced visit to Nacala, Labour Minister Helena Taipo ordered the closure of five GS-Holding factories because of their violations of basic health and safety conditions. The factories were unsanitary, and the workers were not issued with face masks, boots or other safety items.
This Wednesday, the factories were allowed to reopen, after the General Inspector of Labour, Joaquim Siuta, found evidence that the company was complying with the instructions given by the Minister.
Source: Allafrica - 11.11.2011