Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Lowveld sugar producer Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe has said it is ready to immediately develop 4 000 hectares of virgin land into cane plantations, as the company targets to ramp up Zimbabwe’s sugar output to one million tonnes over the next few years.
The country’s sole sugar producer has been producing an average of 490 000 tonnes of per annum, which is below the firm’s two sugar mills’ installed milling capacity of about 600 000 tonnes.
Tongaat Hulett owns sugar mills at Triangle and Hippo Valley estates.
Speaking to members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement who toured the company’s operations in the Lowveld last week, Tongaat managing director Mr Sydney Mtsambiwa said his firm was waiting for Government’s nod to develop 4 000ha of new cane plots for allocation to beneficiaries.
Mr Mtsambiwa said the developed land would be handed over to Government for allocation to those in need of it.
“Regarding alternative options, some years ago we put to Government a proposal to develop a gross area of 4000ha of virgin land, which would translate to about 3 300ha of net sugarcane area and at that time our estimate was at an average allocation of 20ha per beneficiary and that development would have catered for approximately 166 new beneficiaries,” he said.
“At that time we thought that would be an alternative safety net to accommodate those that needed to be resettled in a manner that grew the industry, while addressing the interests of Government.”
Mr Mtsambiwa said earlier plans to roll out the project, code-named “Kilimanjaro” then, were halted after only 350ha had been developed.