Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
SUGARCANE farmers in Chiredzi are looking forward to receiving their initial payment for the product in foreign currency this month as part of Government’s thrust to incentivise exports.
Hopes are also high among farmers following reports that Tongaat Hullet Zimbabwe has since exported all the sugar produced in the last farming season.
The sugar milling giant is said to have cleared all sugar which was at its Triangle and Hippo Valley storage facilities, where foreign registered vehicles were seen ferrying the product to Mozambique and South Africa respectively.
Chairman of the Commercial Sugarcane Farmers’ Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Admore Hwarare, said their members were expecting their share of exported sugar in foreign currency.
He said some were planning to use the proceeds to import fuel and other farming inputs.
“We are very delighted that Tongaat Hullet Zimbabwe, through the Zimbabwe Sugar Sales, where I am a board member, managed to sell a significant amount of sugar to foreign markets, thereby earning the country, the company and us sugarcane farmers the much needed foreign currency,” said Mr Hwarare.
He said traditionally the industry would export 40 percent of sugar but this time they managed to export more.
“If you visit the warehouses in Triangle and Hippo Valley there is no sugar. All the sugar was exported meaning there are many reasons for the over 1 000 indigenous farmers to smile because their produce was exported,” Mr Hwarare said.
“Traditionally we would export 40 percent of sugar produced and have 60 percent consumed locally. This would see sugar from the previous season crossing over into another season in huge quantities. That is no longer the case.
“The world is in need of Zimbabwean sugar and we must export so that we get more foreign currency.”
Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association chairman, Mr Edmore Veterai, said the industry required a holistic approach towards the attainment of the one million tonnes target of sugar per annum.
“If the farmer is getting payments in foreign currency, this will help him or her to plan ahead for the next farming season. In addition, most of our inputs require forex and given that our product is required worldwide, we just have to increase production towards the one million tonnes of sugar per annum.
“We can only achieve that feat if the farmer is getting foreign currency,’’ he said.
The last framing season was a headache for many sugarcane farmers who were confronted with a number of productivity related challenges.
According to the farmers, some of the bottlenecks include failing to settle their arrears with banks or failing to pay workers’ salaries and wages, while others sold inputs on the parallel market and completely abandoned operations. Sugarcane grows for 12 to 16 months before being harvested between June and December each year.