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HomeIndustry & UpdatesZimbabwe: High Dam Levels to Drive Sugarcane Output

Zimbabwe: High Dam Levels to Drive Sugarcane Output

THE Lowveld’s current dam water holdings are sufficient to irrigate Zimbabwe’s sugarcane fields for the next three seasons, key industry player Hippo Valley says, as it plans to optimise on water availability to grow output.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s raw sugar producers are riding on a wave of improved harvests, which were stimulated by good rains experienced in the country during the 2020/21 rainfall season.

Lowveld falls under the Runde catchment area in the south eastern semi-arid to arid region of Zimbabwe.

According to Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) Tugwi Mukosi, which is the major dam in the area after its commissioning in 2017, is 99,2 percent full while Mutirikwi and Manyuchi dams are 96,9 percent and 89, 9 percent respectively.

This will therefore be an impetus for improved sugarcane production in the country for coming seasons.

In its first quarter trading ending June 30, 2021 Hippo Valley Estates highlighted that, “… after the satisfactory rains the Lowveld dams hold sufficient stored water for approximately three seasons of irrigation at normal water duty.”

“And due to the long cropping cycle of sugarcane, current cane expansion and yield improvement initiatives will impact production in the future seasons.

In the quarter ending June 2021, Hippo Valley Estates registered a three percent increase in harvested cane at 283 499 tons compared to 275 293 tons recorded in the same quarter in 2020.

Private farmers’ harvested cane production grew significantly to 270, 024 tons registering a 94 percent jump in the positive from 139, 297 tons in the relative period last year

A yield of 3,5 million metric tonnes is anticipated in the 2020/21 marketing year having benefited from decent weather conditions, availability of sufficient irrigation water, and an increase in area planted

According to Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), the sector forecasts sugarcane production in Zimbabwe to grow by two percent to 3,6 million metric tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing year.

Generally, sugarcane hectarage in the lowveld has been on the growth path since the 2017/18 season where a total hectarage of 45 245 hectares was put under the crop.

A modest increase in hectarage was achieved in the two previous growing seasons as 48 937 and 53 000 hectares of the crop were cultivated in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 farming seasons respectively. Resultantly, Zimbabwean sugar imports have been on the decline for the past three seasons credited mainly to the adequate raw sugar supply in the domestic market.

About 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s sugar cane crop is produced by two large estates, the Triangle Sugar Estate and Hippo Valley Estate which are owned by South African based Tongaat Hulett Company.

Private farmers, including large scale farmers and small scale farmers, produce the remaining 20 percent of the country’s sugar cane crop.

Sugar cane in Zimbabwe is grown under canal irrigation in the lowveld area of Triangle and Hippo Valley, in the Chiredzi District and Masvingo Province.

The main export destinations for Zimbabwe sugar are the United States, Eastern Africa (Kenya), Botswana, and South Africa.

The above news was originally posted on allafrica.com

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