Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe, has reaffirmed its long-term commitment to the country, adding that it was ready to work with the Government on the US$40 million Kilimanjaro sugarcane project.
The game-changing project had temporarily stopped due to lack of clarity on the issue of tenure on Tongaat’s land, but the South African headquartered sugar maker is now set to proceed with the project.
Under the Kilimanjaro project, Tongaat in partnership with Government and local financial institutions, is developing 3 300 hectares of virgin land near Hippo Valley Estates that will be put under cane and allocated to indigenous growers as part of an empowerment drive.
The project is being developed under a full cost recovery basis.
Before work stopped last year, about 700ha had been developed and put under cane with around 40 indigenous beneficiaries having already been allocated the plots.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said the sugarcane development project was now set to resume.
‘’Tongaat and its partners completed the first phase where 700ha were developed and put under cane before allocation to beneficiaries and work is now poised to start on the second phase of the project.
“Government and Tongaat remain fully committed to the full implementation of the project and work is poised to resume soon,’’ said Minister Chadzamira.
‘’The project is divided into three phases and work will soon start on the second phase and both that phase and the third phase will see development of an equal 1 300ha to bring the total area turned into cane fields to 3 300 ha.’’
Minister Chadzamira lauded Tongaat for its commitment to invest in Zimbabwe and help grow the provincial Gross Domestic Product in line with Vision 2030 of an empowered upper middle income economy.
Completion of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam by the Government in 2017 has created additional leeway to expand cane farming in the Lowveld.
About 45 000ha are under sugarcane in the Lowveld, with Tongaat and over 1 000 indigenous outgrowers owning about 50 percent each of the cane fields.
There is an additional 4 000ha under cane at Mwenezana Estates in Mwenezi, which is owned by Tongaat.
Presently, Zimbabwe produces an average of 400 000 tonnes of sugar annually, which is more than the yearly consumption of around 300 000 tonnes.
The surplus sugar is exported.
However, the annual sugar output of 630 000 tonnes per annum in the Lowveld, falls short of the installed capacity at the two sugar mills at Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates.
Government is also in the process of scouting for an investor to open another sugar mill at Mkwasine Estates where farmers are battling with high transport to move their cane for milling, either at Hippo Valley or Triangle, which is about 60km away.
Besides cutting down the transport costs, a new mill is end Tongaat’s monopoly in sugar milling, which will benefit farmers.
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