19 FEB - 05 MAR
SUGAR -cane and beet -has retained its respectable second position as the country’s second most important agro export crop, earning Zambia ZMW994million (about USD100 million) in 2017. Sugar is commercially grown with the largest producer being Mazabuka based Illovo’s Zambia Sugar company.
Zambia’s Sugar exports are projected to further increase in 2018 and the coming years as more brands and greenfield agro projects mature.
Some of the other projects include Sable Group’s Consolidated Farming Limited’s (spanning across Lusaka and central provinces), Kafue Sugar and Gourock Group’s Kalungwishi estates - Northern Province - based Kasama sugar being readily available in most national retail outlets. These sugar estates have enough room to expand as they embark on extending their out grower schemes.
Other Greenfield sugar projects like Spin Venture Group’s Mansa Sugar, in Zambia’s Luapula province has also come on board with aggressive targets. They have located their facilities in Luapula province, a region that is close to Zambia’s industrial and mining hub, the Copperbelt extending into North Western province. This location is ideal and closest to exports markets such as the DRC and the Great Lakes region.
Zambia has a credible comparative advantage when it comes to Sugar cane and beet growing as the country enjoys high enough temperatures suitable for sugar cane and massive water bodies like the Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa and Luapula rivers that the large anchor sugar estates can tap water from for irrigation purposes ensuring a whole year crop production cycle.
During its rainy season that lasts from November to March, the sugar farmers enjoy deep savings from rain fed crops as most parts of the country, enjoy relatively good rainfall, saving up on irrigation costs. PAGE 14
Successive droughts hitting Southern Africa in 2015-16 led to failed maize harvests across the region. The El Niño-induced floods in 2016 washed away most crops, destroyed homes and livestock, forcing many countries to declare a state of disaster.
A regional bumper maize harvest in the last season could, in the interim, ensure food security, but another drought year could mean another food crisis.
The fall armyworm, a ravenous pest which has already destroyed thousands of hectares of maize crop across the region, was first detected in Western and Central Africa in 2016. To date it has spread to more than 28 countries on the continent.
While favouring maize, the worm can also feed on more than 80 other plant species, including millet, sugarcane, rice, sorghum, vegetables and cotton, making control a difficult task, according to the FAO.
According to Phiri, a sub-regional training programme has been rolled out to raise awareness about the worm among smallholder farmers in Africa. He said the biggest worry now was the evolving situation of the quality of the crops in the field due to the uneven distribution of rainfall across the region.
Some governments are in the process of crop assessments to get a better insight into how much damage has already been done by the worm. The FAO fears that even if the rains come, some crops will not recover to normal levels. "While we do have fall armyworm, our biggest concern now is the uneven rains," Phiri said.
Most Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries will receive normal to above-normal rainfall for most of January to May 2018, according to the 21st Century Annual Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum’s mid-season review and update issued in December 2017.