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Hippo Valley buoyed by high water levels

Agriculture
Hippo Valley

HIPPO Valley Estates, one of the country’s largest sugarcane producers, says the current water levels at Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi dams will accelerate opportunities for expansion of sugarcane projects.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed sugar producer said the increased water availability will benefit new farmers keen to supply cane to the mills.

“With Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi dams close to full capacity, the industry is set to accelerate opportunities for horizontal expansion with new sugarcane projects, feeding off this robust water system, mainly for the benefi­t of new farmers who are keen to supply the cane to the mills,” Hippo Valley said in its annual report  for the period ending March 31, 2022.

“Water supply to the Mkwasine out-growers is, however, currently constrained on account of challenges on the Siya-Manjirenji system, with ongoing work to attend to the issue.”

The sugar producer said the sector is working with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to enhance the industry’s water conveyance infrastructure to cope with the increasing farming and irrigation activities in the Lowveld.

According to the company, significant improvements in yields on existing farms are expected on the back of continued technical support being extended to the farmers by the company and the Zimbabwe Sugarcane Experiment and Research Station in replant programmes, and the introduction of new varieties.

Hippo Valley noted that although local demand for sugar remains strong as the industry recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, the sugar industry is engaging authorities to ensure an even and competitive playing field against cheap imports of sugar originating from surplus producers who enjoy duty protection in their host countries.

However, cane deliveries from the company’s plantations (miller-cum-planter) decreased by 14% compared to the previous year due to lower yields that emanated from a combination of yellow sugarcane aphid infestations and water-logging of soils induced by incessant rains received between December 2020 and March 2021 that adversely impacted crop development.

In addition, the early start-up of the milling season in April 2021 also resulted in the crushing of younger cane occasioned by a strategic decision to reposition the milling season so as to maximise growing and milling efficiencies in future seasons, the company said.

Private farmer deliveries improved by 31% as a result of an increase in area harvested attributable to  the newly developed area under the Kilimanjaro project and “carry-over” cane from the previous season.

Follow Freeman on Twitter @freemanmakopa

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