Tugwi sugar impact excites Hippo Valley Hippo Valley said Tugwi, the country’s largest inland dam and Lake Mutirikwi, will sustain significant irrigation expansion for the lowveld farms

Michael Tome Business Reporter

INCREASED dam water capacity, due to Tugwi Mukosi and Mutirikwi dams, will be critical for the provision of sufficient water to support expansion of sugarcane production in Zimbabwe, key industry player Hippo Valley says.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed sugar producer intends to capitalize on the increased water availability to grow output.

Commissioned in 2017, Tugwi-Mukosi has an estimated capacity of 1,8 billion litres and is the largest in-land dam in the country, and has water holding capacity enough to irrigate an additional 25 000 hectares of land in the lowveld.

According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Tugwi Mukosi reached 100 percent of its holding capacity in the 2021-22 rainy season while Mutirikwi filled up to 98,3 percent of its potential.

The recorded dam capacity provides for enhanced sugarcane production in the country for the approaching cropping season. Hippo Valley noted that the two dams are set to sustain irrigation expansion for the lowveld farms, particularly for sugarcane production as well as growing of maize, the country’s single most important staple grain.

To realize the envisioned sugar production growth Hippo said the sugar industry was working closely with the ZINWA to improve the water conveyancing infrastructure, to cope with the increasing farming and irrigation activities in the region.

Hippos said on the flip side, irrigation water supply to the Mkwasine sugarcane out-growers has been inhibited given the mounting challenges on the Siya-Manjirenji water system, but remedial works have since been initiated to rectify the issue.

“With Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi Dams close to full capacity, the industry is set to accelerate opportunities for horizontal expansion with new sugarcane projects, feeding off this robust water system, mainly for the benefit of new farmers who are keen to supply the cane to the mills,” said Hippo Valley chief executive Aiden Mhere in a statement accompanying the full year results to March 2022.

He said technical support was being extended to farmers by Tongaat and the Zimbabwe Sugarcane Experiment and Research Station (ZSAES).

The programme is expected to significantly contribute to yield improvements in coming years mainly on the back of new varieties introduced.

In terms of performance, sugar production at Hippo Valley Estates in the period under review increased by three percent to 209 510 tonnes from 204 384 tonnes in the prior year attributable to better cane quality and favorable mill efficiencies.

Private Farmer deliveries improved by 31 percent due to an increase in area harvested largely attributable to newly developed areas under the Kilimanjaro project and carry-over cane from the previous season.

“The requisite off-crop maintenance work was satisfactorily carried out from December until the start-up of crushing season in May 2022 thereby positioning the mill for improved performance in the 2022/23 production year,” said Hippo Valley chairman Mr Canaan Dube in his statement accompanying the group’s financials.

Mr Dube noted that cane deliveries from the company’s plantations decreased by 14 percent from the prior year due to lower yields that emanated from a combination of yellow sugarcane aphid infestations and waterlogging of soils induced by incessant rains received between December 2020 and March 2021 that adversely impacted crop development.

Tongaat’s share of total sugar sales stood at 394 000 tons in the year under review representing 53 percent.


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