PRIVATE farmers producing sugarcane under the Kilimanjaro Project have recorded a percent increase in delivery volumes from 592 722 tonnes to 768 804 for the financial period ended March 31, 2022.
The development comes in the wake of the expansion of the hectarage put under the crop as well as part of the carry-over from last season.
In a statement, the chairman of the group, Mr Canaan Farai Dube, confirmed that deliveries had increased by 30 percent due to an increase in area harvested largely attributable to newly developed area under the Kilimanjaro Project.
“Harvesting of the 562 hectares fully planted is in progress with a yield of 121 tonnes of cane per hectare having being fully realised to date while the balance of 138 hectares is currently being planted to complete the empowerment block,” he added.
The group, however, encountered a 14 percent drop in total volumes harvested from its plantations from 1 043 774 tonnes to 897 334 tonnes.
Mr Dube revealed that the yields were affected by the scourge of yellow sugarcane aphid infestations and waterlogging of soils, as a result of incessant rains between December 2020 to March 2021.
Despite various industrial constraints the group continues to make efforts in empowering out growers. The group in partnership with the Government allocated 700 hactres of developed land out of 4 000 hectares under the Kilimanjaro project to 41 new beneficiaries
“More so, Hippo Valley in its mandate to increase the out-grower participation and production volumes is implementing co-management agreements with underperforming farmers. To date, the company has seen 61 farmers partnering with it and 596 hectares being ploughed out and replanted under expert guidance,” explained Mr Dube.
In addition, the company continues to make efforts towards facilitating the participation of local farmers in the sugar cane value chain for noticeable socio-economic transformation. Together with Triangle Limited Company is actively assisting new farmers with virgin land and in areas close to the mills by providing them with the needed technical and commercial feasibility studies, capital mobilisation and land development on a full cost recovery basis.
At the backdrop of the sugar industry experiencing a decline of its export volumes from 115 000 tonnes recorded last year to 38 000 owing to a 10 percent growth of the domestic market demand. The company saw a 4 percent revenue increase from $28, 9 billion to $30 billion.
With Tugwi-Mukosi and Mtirikwi dams close to full capacity utilisation, the industry is engaging with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to enhance the water infrastructure, as irrigation demand surges in the low-veld.