Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ) is geared to partner Government in the development of 25 000 hectares of sugar cane earmarked to be irrigated by water from Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, in a development that is likely to create more than 10 000 jobs.
The development comes as the company has adopted sugarcane plantations expansion drive in which 4 000ha are being developed for more than 200 out-grower farmers in Chiredzi under the Kilimanjaro Project.
With the recently completed Tokwe-Mukosi Dam already recording over 65 percent full, development of the planned 25 000ha irrigation scheme is long overdue.
Despite continued threats to seize some of its existing plantations, Tongaat Hulett said it will continue investing in development of new plantations as a way of empowering new outgrower farmers, while meeting the growing demand for Zimbabwean produced sugar on the international market.
Tongaat Hulett corporate affairs and communications manager Ms Adelaide Chikunguru said their company’s two sugar mills in Triangle and Hippo Valley were operating below capacity, as they could process cane from 75 000ha annually, but were doing so for just 45 000ha.
“As an initial step to give impetus to the Tokwe-Mukosi project, which is of national importance, Tongaat Hulett proposes the early development of some 17 000 hectares under sugarcane for out-grower farmers, with cane being delivered to the existing two mills,” she said.
“The new sugarcane development project has a potential to resettle a further 850 new outgrowers and generate direct employment for about 8 000 Zimbabweans. Tongaat Hulett proposes to kickstart the project through the development of 2 000ha under Phase 1 for outgrowers.
“However, a total of 25 000 hectares can be developed for crop production around the Tokwe-Mukosi project.”
Ms Chikunguru said 200ha had already been developed since 2014 and the remainder would be finished by 2019.
“A net total of 3 393 hectares is to be developed under the Kilimanjaro Project for the benefit of small-scale sugar- cane outgrowers in Chiredzi, which represents an investment of some $40 million,” she said.
To kickstart the project, some 203 hectares were completed, having commenced project works in August 2014.
The 203ha were completed under a budget of $2,4 million from bush clearing to crop establishment and maintenance until harvest.
The 3 393ha outgrower sugarcane development is set to be completed in 2019.