South African sugar manufacturer Tongaat-Hulett has cut back sugar production forecasts for Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the current financial year through to March 2012.
The company operates through its subsidiaries Triangle Sugars and Hippo Valley Estates that have a combined installed sugar milling capacity of 600 000 tonnes.
Tongaat projects is to harvest at least 333 020 tonnes in Zimbabwe in the year ending March 30 2011 compared to initial projections of a harvest of between
330 000 to 350 000 tonnes forecast in November.
This year’s production output however indicates a 29% jump from 258 965 tonnes produced in 2009/10.
In a presentation on its website, Tongaat says it expects to produce between 360 000 tonnes to 380 000 tonnes in Zimbabwe in the 2011 to 2012 period and 250 000 to 270 000 tonnes in Mozambique.
In November last year the company forecast a harvest of between 380 000 and 400 000 metric tonnes for Zimbabwe and between 270 000 and 290 000 metric tonnes from its Mozambique operations for the same period.
The company, with 14 sugar plants in six countries, has the capacity to produce a million tonnes of sugar in South Africa, 600 000 tonnes in Zimbabwe and 327 000 in Mozambique.
Zimbabwe’s sugar industry is expected to register growth of no less than 26% this year.
A combination of economic and political factors weighed heavily on the operations of sugar producers in the past decade.
Sugar output declined from a peak of 600 000 tonnes per annum to 259 000 tonnes during the 2009-10 agricultural season.
The country’s output in 2011/12 is anticipated to increase to 450 000 tonnes, with most of this coming from Hippo Valley Estates.
The continued decline of sugar production forced government to adopt a National Sugar Adaptation Strategy in 2006 aimed, at among other things, arresting the decline in sugar output and rehabilitating infrastructure to return the industry to its former levels of production.