Dry spell weakens Hippo Valley’s cane and sugar output

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  • Company’s harvested cane declined by 5%
  • Private farmers harvest slumps by 14%
  • Sugar production was 12% lower in the period

Harare – Hippo Valley Estates Limited realized a decline in cane and sugar production in the nine months to 31 December 2019 as the trading environment remains challenging.

The company’s harvested cane in the period declined by 5% from 1 068 164 tons in the 2018 comparable period to 1 010 571 tons in 2019 while a 14% decline was recorded from cane harvested by private farmers.

In a trading update for the period under review the Company said sugar production declined by 12% from 238 965 tons in 2018 to 211 267 tons in 2019.

The cropping season in 2019 was hit by poor rainfall as a result of the drought that has ravaged the country and other parts of the Southern African region as well as a reduction in irrigation due to low dam water levels and electricity supply.

Cane quality in the period under review was 3% lower than prior season mainly due to the high incidence of Yellow Sugarcane Aphids (YSA) experienced in the region.

Total cane milled declined by 9% to 1 696 386 tons from 1 862 032 tons in the 2018.

Sugar sales for the industry into the local market in the period slumped by 29% below prior year at 265 805 tons, a reflection of weak disposable incomes a result of the current inflationary environment.

However, export sugar exports increased by 23% during the period to 67 355 tons, significantly improving the Company’s access to forex.

The rains received in January and February has brought relief to the crops which had been affected by the dry and hot weather experienced from October to December and the company is hopeful that the irrigation water it has will improve with expectations of reasonable rainfall activity during the February to April 2020 period.

 As a result of the lack of forex and the high inflation in the country the Company said it continues to face logistical challenges in the supply of imported critical inputs, spares and services.

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