by Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe’s sugar industry is reported to be on a recovery, growth and expansion phase currently employing 18 000 people and creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.
Tongaat Hulett Hippo Valley Estates Ltd CEO, Sydney Mtsambiwa says sugar production has already increased from 259 000 tons in 2009/10 to an expected 460 000 tons in 2012 with the company expecting to produce between 225 000 and 242 000 tons this season.The industry had previously faced a downturn under the controversial land reform programme launched in Zimbabwe in 2000.
“A central part of this recovery has been the re-establishment of cane growing by improving agricultural yields on company-farmed estates and substantially developing indigenous private cane growers,” Mtsambiwa said.
In the current season, 611 indigenous private growers, farming 11 138 hectares and employing 5 569 people are expected to supply 772 000 tons of cane generating $50 million in revenue.
Mtsambiwa says the continued recovery of the Zimbabwe sugar industry is underpinned by the accelerated private grower sugar cane rehabilitation programme initiated in 2010/11 under the Sustainable Rural Farming Communities (SusCo) project.
As part of the company’s on-going cane re-establishment programme, a total of 1 364 hectares of company-farmed estates have been ploughed out and replanted in the six months to 30 September 2012.
“The industry’s domestic and export sales volumes in the first half of the year totalled 247 741 tons compared to 215 117 tons for the same period in 2011/12. Local market demand for sugar has remained firm,” Mtsambiwa said.
He added that Zimbabwe, with Tongaat Hulett’s assistance has the potential to further develop indigenous private cane farmers substantially.
“Based on current market dynamics, these indigenous private cane farmer developments could generate annual revenue of $150 million and employ 12 000 people,” he said.