Zimbabwe’s sugar production is projected to increase by 17% to 460 000 metric tonnes in the 2018/19 season, mainly due to higher volumes of better quality sugarcane available for crushing
Department of Research and Specialist Services principal research economist, Freeman Gutsa said the increase will spur a rise in exports.
“An expected increase in sugar production is forecast to increase exports by more than 21% from 120 000 metric tonnes exported in the 2017/18 season to more than 145 000 metric tonnes in the 2018/19 season,” Gutsa said.
“We are expecting an increase of 17% to 460 000 metric tonnes up from 393 000 metric tonnes produced and marketed in the 2017/18.”
According to the department, the expected increases in sugar production will also enhance and positively feed into increases of available sugarcane ethanol, which is an alcohol-based fuel produced by the fermentation of sugarcane juice and molasses.
Sugarcane ethanol has emerged as a leading renewable fuel for the transportation sector in Zimbabwe as it is a clean, affordable and low-carbon biofuel. Currently it is being used blended with petrol to reduce petroleum use, boost octane ratings and cut tailpipe emissions.
However, Gutsa said the timely availability of inputs and intermittent droughts negatively affected the quality and quantity of sugarcane available for crushing over the years.
“Availability of labour is also an issue in sugarcane production since the crop is labour intensive and usually half of the costs are spent on labour. Inputs are required in the early months of planting to get the best crop, which means returns are determined by the timeliness of input application on the crop,” he said.
More than 80% of sugarcane crop is produced by Triangle Sugar Estate and Hippo Valley Estate and less than 20% comes from large scale farmers and newly-resettled farmers including Mkwasine Estates farmed by small scale farmers on an 8 200 hectare land area. About 65% of the sugar produced in Zimbabwe is for the domestic market and the remainder is exported to United States, East Africa and within the region to countries such as South Africa and Botswana.