In a statement Tongaat Hulett, the country’s sole sugar millers, said the season opened with high expectations as the quality of the cane crop is good because irrigation water, which had been anticipated to be in short supply, improved significantly because of the heavy rains.
Hippo Valley and Triangle sugar milling machines had been closed since December last year to under go major maintenance repairs.
“We are anticipating a sharp increase in the production of sugar because of the quality of the crop,” said the company in a statement. “We are expecting both new and old farmers to deliver their crops on time as the milling season is now open until the end of year”.
“Sugar cane production is expected to increase as an estimated new 3,300 hectares of land has been earmarked to be utilised by new farmers,” says the company.
Sugar production in Zimbabwe grew by about 28 percent during the 2012/2013 season as cane deliveries from both new and old farmers grew substantially.
Triangle and Hippo Valley Mills, both wholly owned by Tongaat Hullet, have a combined capacity of crushing about 4,8 million tons of cane annually and produce 640,000 tons of sugar. Farmers have asked for a 26% increase in the price.
Late last year irrigation had been significantly reduced and the replanting of the cane crop had been curtailed. However the industry remains optimistic that the water mitigation measures put in place and the completion of the Tokwe Mukosi dam will enable operations to remain afloat.
The industry has asked government for protection by increasing import duty on sugar. Currently imported sugar is cheaper than the locally manufactured product. Hundreds of people, mainly senior civil servants, seized huge tracks of sugar cane plantations during the height of farm invasions.
This negatively affected sugar production as the new farmers lacked the required expertise to maximise production and faced a shortage of financial resources. But with the assistance of Tongaat Hulett and traditional sugar cane farmers the new farmers are now producing meaningful quantities as they are getting the required financial and professional assistance.Post published in: Business