Su­gar­cane farm­ers tar­get 600 000 tonnes

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Tawanda Man­goma Harare Bureau

SU­GAR­CANE farm­ers in Chiredzi have set a tar­get of pro­duc­ing more than 600 000 tonnes in the forth­com­ing sea­son, while rid­ing on an in­creased pro­duc­tion level this year.

e call by Ton­gaat Hulett Zim­babwe (THZ) and the Zim­babwe Su­gar As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­per­i­ment Sta­tion comes af­ter pro­duc­tion lev­els have been re­duced to an av­er­age of 450 000 tonnes of su­gar per sea­son.

Zim­babwe last pro­duced 600 000 tonnes of su­gar in 1999, with the low yields at­trib­uted to droughts, lead­ing to wa­ter ra­tioning, high cost of pro­duc­tion and the aban­don­ing of some su­gar­cane plots.

Ad­dress­ing farm­ers at a field day held un­der the theme: “Ad­dress­ing Yield De­cline through Good Man­age­ment Prac­tices”, in Mk­wa­sine, THZ ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor-op­er­a­tions, Mr Adrien Mhere, said a col­lec­tive ef­fort was re­quired from all stake­hold­ers in the su­gar in­dus­try to work to­wards a rise in yields.

He said Govern­ment ad­dressed wa­ter short­ages through the com­mis­sion­ing of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, which has ca­pac­ity to ir­ri­gate ap­prox­i­mately 25 000 hectares. “We are un­lock­ing new mar­kets for our su­gar,” said Mr Mhere. “This year we have a quota to sup­ply 18 000 tonnes of su­gar to Amer­ica, while coun­tries such as Botswana and Namibia get nearly half of their su­gar from Zim­babwe.”

Mr Mhere said his com­pany was al­ready pre­pared to help all out grower farm­ers who needed in­puts.

THZ ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor - out-grower farm­ers, Mr Ushe Chin­huru, said they had a tar­get of hav­ing all in­di­vid­ual farm­ers pro­duc­ing a min­i­mum of 120 tonnes per hectare by 2020.

“We of­fer you free ex­ten­sion ser­vices so that you can im­prove your pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity,” he said. “You con­trib­ute 34 per­cent of the su­gar­cane which we process as THZ and which is very sig­nif­i­cant.”

Mr Chin­huru said in­di­vid­ual farm­ers pro­duced 1 138 000 tonnes of su­gar­cane last sea­son.

“We want that to grow,” he said. “We will con­tinue to sup­port you and banks are there also to help make our dream come true.”

Zim­babwe Su­gar As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­per­i­ment Sta­tion act­ing direc­tor Dr Au­drey Mab­veni said noth­ing woud stop out­grower farm­ers from har­vest­ing more than 160 tonnes per hectare.

She said farm­ers should make sure they en­gaged their sta­tion for pro­fes­sional ex­ten­sion sup­port.

“Some of you are pro­duc­ing 160 tonnes per hectare, why then are oth­ers pro­duc­ing 70 tonnes?” she said.

Dr Mab­veni said farm­ers re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion from the sta­tion were highly suc­cess­ful. “Ev­ery­thing must be ap­plied ac­cord­ing to find­ings at the laboratory, be it fer­tiliser, wa­ter, it must be the same,” she said.

Mean­while, Ton­gaat Hulett, has pledged to re­ha­bil­i­tate all roads in Mk­wa­sine Es­tate to res­cue farm­ers fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges in trans­port­ing their pro­duce to the mills.

Ton­gaat Hulett stopped op­er­a­tions in Mk­wa­sine in 2006 fol­low­ing the al­lo­ca­tion of all su­gar­cane plots in the area to A2 farm­ers dur­ing the land re­form pro­gramme. Farm­ers have, since then, been fail­ing to main­tain roads.

Ad­dress­ing farm­ers at a field day held re­cently, Ton­gaat Hulett ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor-op­er­a­tions Mr Mhere raised con­cern with the state of roads that have caused trans­port prob­lems for farm­ers.

“Just as we were driv­ing along the way, we saw huge bun­dles of su­gar­cane which I be­lieve fell from mov­ing trac­tors,” he said. “It’s just un­fair for the farmer to look af­ter his cane for 12 months and fail to de­liver it fully.

“If I just start pick­ing up all the su­gar­cane which you are drop­ping in Mk­wa­sine, I will de­liver a rel­a­tively high ton­nage than the ac­tual farmer.”

Mr Mhere said as the largest su­gar pro­duc­ing com­pany, they were mov­ing in to as­sist farm­ers re­pair roads in Mk­wa­sine.

Ton­gaat Hulett Zim­babwe plant in Chiredzi

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