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Zimbabwe has the capacity to expand its sugar industry to over 200 000 hectares using the current water bodies, an agriculture expert has said.
Addressing students of the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 30, who visited Chiredzi on a study tour last week, former Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe agriculture director Mr Farai Msikavanhu said the country should take advantage of its climate and various water bodies to produce ethanol.
“Clean energy is becoming a major area of concern in the whole world and this makes sugarcane an important and strategic crop,” he said.
“Recently, I was reading an article saying South Africa has more cars than the rest of Southern African countries combined. This is an opportunity for us to exploit, we must export more of our ethanol to these nearby consumers.
“Zimbabwe has the best climate in the whole world which can suit the production of sugar cane on a 12-month cycle.”
Mr Msikavanhu said sugar cane production should expand to the Zambezi Valley. “As the economy grows and we are able to harness more water like what we have recently achieved, we must do more irrigation farming,” he said.
“There is nothing stopping us from undertaking sugarcane on 100 000ha in the Zambezi Valley since the water is there along the Zambezi River.
“We have Tokwe-Mukosi Dam coming on with another 15 000ha to 20 000ha, plus the existing 45 000ha under cane in Chiredzi. There is Osborne Dam which is currently irrigating 10 000ha of sugarcane in Chisumbanje, but the dam can support even a bigger hectarage.”
Mr Msikavanhu said another 100 000ha could be developed in the Save Valley if Kondo and Runde-Tende dams were constructed. “The amount of ethanol and sugar which we have potential to produce can cause a major turn-around on the Zimbabwean economy,” he said. “We must turn our productive capacity.
“Our revenue base will be strong enough even for us to start contemplating on bringing back our own currency.”