Triangle-based sugar milling company Tongaat Hulett has assured the nation that there are enough stocks of sugar despite fears that the current low rainfall may affect cane production. Media reports yesterday suggested that the country was facing a sugar shortage due to drought. In a statement yesterday, Tongaat Hulett corporate affairs and communications manager Ms Adelaide Chikunguru said current stocks were enough to last even up to 2017.
“Tongaat Hulett operations in Zimbabwe comprising Triangle Limited and Hippo Valley Estate Limited wish to advise their valued customers and key stakeholders that there are sufficient stocks to meet the entire domestic sugar market requirements until the following sugar milling season which resumes in April/May 2016.
“In addition, there are some sugar stocks that will be carried over into the 2016-17 sugar milling season,” said Ms Chikunguru. She said sufficient sugar would be produced from the current sugarcane crop on the ground to meet total domestic market requirements for the period to April/May 2017, and any surplus production would be exported once domestic market requirements were catered for.
“There is therefore, no need for customers to panic as sufficient stocks will be available to meet their current and foreseeable future needs, entirely,” said Ms Chikunguru. She said although the current rainy season has not yet ended, availability of sufficient water for irrigation continues to receive focused attention while appropriate measures were being implemented to mitigate this challenge.
Zimbabwe is currently going through a dry spell which has seen dam levels throughout the country declining, raising fears of food shortages, including sugar. Tongaat Hulett is the largest sugar producing company in Zimbabwe and consists of Triangle and a 50.3 percent stake in Hippo Valley Estates, representing a combined sugar milling capacity of more than 640 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe consumes between 350 000 and 400 000 tonnes of sugar per year. In December, another sugar shortage was reported after Tongaat workers downed tools demanding a salary increment of up to $300 from $173.
The workers argued that the $173 was below what their colleagues in South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland were earning. However, Tongaat said it could only afford a $10 increase while negotiations for a further increase continued.