Tongaat bemoans drastic fall in sugar production

Tongaat bemoans drastic fall in sugar production
Published: 14 December 2017
TONGAAT Hulett Zimbabwe has bemoaned the drastic fall in production at Mkwasine Sugar Estate in Chiredzi amid reports that out-growers have produced half the target.

Speaking during the commissioning of the $10 million Nandi-Mkwasine, 35km-railway line in Chiredzi on Wednesday, managing director Mr Sydney Mtsambiwa said it was disheartening to note that farmers were failing to produce expected yields.

"In 1964, Mkwasine Estate was producing at least 850 000t up to 900 000t of sugarcane. This season, farmers only managed 500 000t, which is about 50 percent less of the production capacity," said Mr Mtsambiwa.

He challenged farmers in Mkwasine to take advantage of the rehabilitated railway line, which offers discounted cane transportation rates.

"We have the water, land and our dams are full. We have the irrigation infrastructure hence we anticipate that our yields will improve," he said.

"Such a project in financial terms means at full throttle, when we produce 800 000 tonnes, we look forward to get 100 000t of raw sugar. With our current price of around $527 per tone of sugar in a normal year, Mkwasine Estate should produce $57 million.

"We have a very tough task to reclaim the lost glory. As you can see NRZ has done its part in partnership with EU, the business sector is availing inputs and the farmer is expected to increase production per unit area."

Mr Mtsambiwa said the completion of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam where 25 000 hectares of irrigable land will be availed means that the lowveld has the potential to be the greenbelt of this country.

"With the commissioning of Tokweā€“Mukosi Dam the lowveld is poised for a very quick ramp-up in terms of economic turnaround around agriculture production. Approximately of the 25 000 hectares to be developed, 10 000 hectares will be reserved for sugar cane. We must thank our government for investing in the expansion of our agricultural sector," he said.

EU representative, Mr Thomas Opperer, who is head of economic co-operation and food security said the bloc had to extend $37 million to help small scale sugar cane farmers in Mkwasine after the deterioration of their output.

"The EU responded to the deteriorating infrastructure and limited access to inputs by small scale farmers. In these challenging times EU committed a total of $37 million to the farmers. The objective was to improve livelihoods of the farming community here," he said.

Mr Opperer said the decline in sugarcane yields recorded in the past two decades has motivated them to intervene.

Mkwasine farmers' representative Mr Joel Masuku promised their members would work hard to improve their yield. "As farmers, we are glad that the railway line has been rehabilitated. We promise to work extra hard to improve our yield to the levels, largely expected by Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe," he said.
- the herald
Tags: Ongaat,

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