ZIMBABWE – Sugar producer Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe expects to nearly double its cane production to 1,8 million tonnes in 2016, anchored by a programme to raise output by new farmers, its spokesperson said yesterday as the firm eyes a corresponding jump in raw sugar output to 628 000 tonnes within the next two years.
Tongaat’s Zimbabwean operation has recovered from the turmoil triggered by upheavals induced by land redistribution at the turn of the century and now contributes nearly 35% of the group’s total raw sugar production, behind South Africa with 45%. The rest of the output is from Mozambique (17%) and Swaziland (3%).
At the end of the 2013/14 season, 813 active indigenous private farmers, farming on 14,000 hectares and employing more than 6 700 people, supplied.
1,017,000 tonnes of cane at a cane yield of 74 tonnes cane per hectare harvested, generating $58 million in annual revenue, according to the company’s 2014 annual report.
Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe spokesperson Adelaide Chikunguru told The Source that the company was recruiting more farmers to increase its current hectarage from 16 000 hectares to 18 880 hectares.
“Current initiatives will increase the number of private farmers to some 1 022 supplying more than 1,8 million tonnes of cane. Yields (are likely to be) in excess of 100 tonnes per hectare from 18 880 farmed hectares,” she said. Tongaat Hulett group chief executive Peter Staude recently said increased cane demand in Zimbabwe would result in the local unit producing 488 000 tonnes of raw sugar this year compared to 475 000 tonnes last year.
Zimbabwe’s sugarcane production declined significantly at the turn of the millennium when government embarked on a land reform exercise aimed at addressing land imbalances in the country.
At the time 872 A2 (resettled large-scale commercial) private farmers were resettled on some 16 000 hectares of farmland.
However, Tongaat Hulett launched a $30 million fund in partnership with BancABC Zimbabwe targeted at the resettled farmers.
“The Successful Rural Communities Project (Surco) was launched in November 2011 to develop a successful and sustainable Sugarcane Farming Community through a comprehensive private farmer rehabilitation programme that will increase sugarcane production by private A2 farmers from the 413 000 tonnes harvested on 8 805 hectares in 2010 to an annual production of 1,4 million tonnes on 15 880 hectares by 2014/15,” Chikunguru said.
She added that at full production, an estimated 8 000 workers would be employed by out-grower farmers under the Surco Project, bringing the number of total employees in the sugar industry to 26 000.