Private sugar cane growers record 30% growth

the herald

Elton Manguwo

PRIVATE farmers producing sugar cane under the Kilimanjaro project saw a percentage increase in delivery volumes from 592,722 tonnes to 768,804 for the year ended March 31, 2022.

The development comes on the heels of expanding acreage as well as some of last season’s carryover.

In a statement, the group’s chairman, Mr. Canaan Farai Dube, confirmed that deliveries had increased by 30% due to an increase in harvested area largely attributable to the newly developed area under the Kilimanjaro project.

“Harvesting of the 562 hectares fully planted is underway with a yield of 121 tonnes of cane per hectare having been fully achieved to date while the balance of 138 hectares is currently being planted to complete the empowerment block,” he added.

The group, however, experienced a 14 percent drop in total volumes harvested from its plantations, from 1,043,774 tonnes to 897,334 tonnes.

Mr Dube revealed that yields were affected by the blight of yellow sugarcane aphid infestations and waterlogging, following incessant rains between December 2020 and March 2021.

Despite various industrial constraints, the group is continuing its efforts to make winegrowers more responsible. The group, in partnership with the Government, has allocated 700 hectares of developed land out of 4,000 hectares under the Kilimanjaro project to 41 new beneficiaries.

“More so, Hippo Valley, in its mandate to increase outgrower participation and production volumes, is implementing co-management agreements with underperforming farmers. To date, the company has seen 61 farmers partner with it and 596 hectares have been plowed and replanted under the guidance of experts,” Mr. Dube explained.

Additionally, the company continues to make efforts to facilitate the participation of local farmers in the sugarcane value chain for noticeable socio-economic transformation. In collaboration with Triangle Limited Company, actively assists new farmers with virgin land and in areas close to mills by providing the necessary technical and commercial feasibility studies, raising capital and developing the land on a full recovery basis costs.

In a context where the sugar industry is experiencing a drop in its export volumes from 115,000 tonnes recorded last year to 38,000 due to a 10% growth in demand from the domestic market. The company saw its revenue increase by 4%, from $28.9 billion to $30 billion.

With Tugwi-Mukosi and Mtirikwi dams nearing full capacity utilization, industry is engaging with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to improve water infrastructure, as demand irrigation increases in the lowveld.

Rachel J. Bradford