By Ndafadza Madanha
GOVERNMENT is considering declaring sugar-cane a strategic crop to enable sugarcane farmers’ access incentives that are available to other growers of cash crops such as tobacco and cotton.
Sugarcane alongside tobacco and cotton are among the major foreign currency earners for the country in the agriculture sector.
“There is a proposal to consider sugarcane as a strategic crop. Consultations between my Ministry and that of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement and stakeholders in the sugar industry have been done. This will enable sugar cane farmers to access incentives that are available to other growers of cash crops such as tobacco and cotton,” said minister of Industry and Commerce Sekai Nzenza.
Ministe Nzenza also said the long awaited amendment of the Sugar Production and Control Act was at an advanced stage.
“There is significant progress towards the amendment of the Sugar Production and Control Act. To date, the principles to amend the Act were approved by Cabinet and are now at the Attorney General’s office for drafting of the Bill. When finalized, the Bill will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration before presentation to Parliament.
In 2019, sugar cane production for Zimbabwe was 3.56 million tonnes and is anticipated to rise by 4 percent to 3.7 million MT in the 2020/21 Marketing. The rise is attributable to availability of sufficient irrigation water, increase in area planted, improved sugar cane yields, and industry’s success in addressing the pest, Yellow Sugarcane Aphids (YSA).
According to the Usda Foreign Agriculture Service about 80 percent of Zimbabwe`s sugar cane crop is produced by two large estates, the Triangle Sugar Estate and Hippo Valley Estate. These two estates are owned by South African based Tongaat Hulett Company. Private farmers, including large scale farmers and newly resettled farmers, produce 20 percent of the country’s sugar cane crop. Private growers are all the individual farmers, who are not part of the Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates.