Sweet prospects ahead for Zim sugar industry

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TRIANGLE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE’S sugar output is set to increase this year largely due to a firm capacity utilisation programme by commercial farmers and milling giant, Tongaat Hulett. This is in addition to the availability of irrigation water, which will ensure production levels are up for the third straight season.

Sugar output is expected to reach 500 000 metric tonnes this year, surpassing last year’s 460 000 tonnes. Tongaat Hulett and private farmers have projected an increase in production per hectare this year.

The Commercial Sugar Producers Association (CSPA) said members had initially projected to increase production from 95 tonnes per hectare to 97 tonnes but had since reviewed the figure upwards to over 100 tonnes.

“This is part our firm capacity utilisation programme and we are not far from our projected output,” said CSPA senior official, Tawanda Mafurutu.

“The availability of water has been core to our success since sugar cane production in the country relies heavily on irrigation,” he added.

Tongaat Hulett has projected to increase production from 115 tonnes per hectare to 120 tonnes.

According to the company’s projected results, sugar production will reach 500 000 metric tonnes during the 2019/20 farming season.

The trend is projected to continue right through to the 2020/21 season.

“With adequate water, the industry will accelerate current efforts to maximise sugar production,” said the company in its analysis of the 2018 farming season. Despite poor rains this season, Zimbabwe’s major dams have enough water to sustain sugar cane production, hence the anticipated increase. The completion of the country’s biggest inland water body, Tugwi Mukosi (formerly Tokwe Mukosi) Dam has assured farmers of a consistent supply of irrigation water to sustain the sugar cane crop.

Other water bodies namely Bangala, Manjerenje, Mutirikwi and Siya dams also have water to supply the sugar cane plantations in the Lowveld. The Department of Research and Specialist Services has also projected a significant increase in sugar production.

Sugar is second to tobacco in Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earnings from agriculture.

Tongaat Hulett, the South African firm, produces about 80 percent of the total sugar production while 20 percent is produced by private farmers. It produces from its plantations in Hippo Valley and Triangle.

At least 65 percent of the produced sugar is for domestic use while the rest is for export.

Before the land reforms of the year 2000, sugar cane production was a sole preserve for Tongaat Hulett. – CAJ News