A total of 2700 hectares of land has been cleared under the Tongaat Hulett sugarcane Project Kilimanjaro which was commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in November last year.
The sugarcane project is expected to clear 4 000 hectares of virgin land into sugar plantations for allocation to indigenous farmers on a cost recovery basis in Chiredzi.
Tongaat Hulett Chairman Dan Marokane in a trading update says “Work on the 4 000 hectare out grower cane development project in partnership with Government and local banks (Project Kilimanjaro) is on-going with a total of 2 700 hectares of virgin land having been cleared and ripped, 400 hectares planted to sugarcane, 6 of 12 storage dams built, two pump stations installed and canals constructed.”
“On completion, Project Kilimanjaro will contribute significantly to the industry target of full utilization of installed milling capacity of 600 000 tons sugar by 2023/24, positioning the country to be one of the most competitive sugar producers in the region and globally.”
Project Kilimanjaro continues despite a reduction in 12% sugar reduction to 211 267 experienced in the 9 months ended 31 December 2019 compared to 238 965 recorded in the same period last year.
Sugar production in the 2019 period went down by 12% to 211 267 from 238 965 penned down in 2018.
“Cane quality for the period was 3% lower than prior season mainly due to the high incidence of Yellow Sugarcane Aphids (YSA) experienced in the region. Robust crop management practices are being implemented to contain the pest,” Marokane says.
“Total industry sugar sales into the local market for the quarter ended 31 December 2019 were 29% below prior year at 265 805 tons reflective of weak disposable incomes.”
Industry sugar exports increased by 23% during the period to 67 355 tons, significantly improving the Company’s access to foreign currency according to Tongaat Hulett Chief Executive Officer Aiden Mhere.
“Marketing focus remains on ensuring fulfillment of local market requirements whilst growing export sales in regional premium markets to generate additional foreign currency to fund foreign input costs,” Mhere says.