Local sugar production is expected to continue on an upward trend to over 370 000 metric tonnes (mt) in the 2011/12 season, Zimbabwe Sugar Association (ZSA) said last week.
Addressing the organisation’s forty-eighth annual general meeting, ZSA chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda said production of sugar for the 2010/11 season stood at 334 288mt.
The 2011 production reflected a 75 322mt increase on the prior year, but was only 55,7% of the industry’s installed capacity to produce 600 000mt per annum.
“The production of sugar during the 2010/11 season was adversely affected by the late opening of the Hippo Valley mill. The first phase of the rehabilitation of the Hippo Valley Estates mill was undertaken in the off-crop period early in 2010. Milling operations for the 2010/11 crop season for Hippo Valley Estates commenced on 16 June 2010. The mill produced 131 920mt of sugar,” said Masunda.
“The Triangle mill commenced milling operations on April 2010. The mill produced 202 368mt of sugar and completed milling operations on December 10 2010.
“The production for the 2011/12 season is expected to be in the region of 371 807mt of sugar. This represents an increase of 8% on the previous year and will be 62% of the installed production capacity.”
During the year under review exports of raw sugar came to 133 144mt compared to 107 436mt in the previous year.
Masunda said 20 119mt was sold in terms of the United States tariff rate quota system, to refineries at Baltimore and New York.
Since the review of the European Union (EU) sugar regime, Zimbabwe is able to export sugar into the EU on a duty free as well as a quota-free basis. Prices are determined on a commercial basis.
He said total tonnage sold into the local market for the period April 2010 to March 31 2011 was 174 024mt.
“The non-availability of sugar stocks at the beginning of the season, competition from imported sugars and the end customer’s low disposable income adversely affected sales,” said Masunda
“Official statistics obtained from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce indicate that 83 983mt of sugar was imported into Zimbabwe during the period under review.”
Masunda paid tribute to Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ) in it’s efforts to develop a successful and sustainable sugar cane industry through a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for small-scale growers.
He said in the absence of any unforeseen impediments, this programme would increase the production of sugar cane substantially over the next three years to more than 1,4 million tonnes per annum by the 2014/15 season.
“In this regard, THZ would assist the small-scale growers to plough-out and replant about 4 000 hectares per annum over the next three years. This programme, coupled with support on fertiliser supply, pest and weed control as well as good husbandry, should result in yields increasing from just under 50 tonnes of cane per hectare in the 2011 season to about 100 tonnes of cane per hectare in the 2014/15 season,” added Masunda.