CHIREDZI – Outgrower sugarcane farmers have produced 1 138 000 tonnes of the crop in the just ended 2016 season which is a record compared to all the other seasons.
The highest production that the farmers had realized so far was 800 000 which is 41,8% lower than the new record.
This new record was achieved despite lower rainfall and rationed irrigation water.
Speaking during Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association (ZSDA) Annual General Meeting held at Polocross in Hippo Valley last Friday, Tongaat Hulett Outgrower operations executive, Ushe Chinhuru said this was a record harvest despite water shortages. He said during the previous seasons farmers produced a maximum of 800 000 tonnes without water rationing.
He projected that the farmers will hit 3 million tonnes of sugarcane by 2021 and were set to produce more cane that Tongaat Hullet itself.
"Out-grower sugarcane farmers are playing a big role in the industry. During the past season out-grower farmers produced a record harvest which is 1 138 000 tonnes and this was achieved despite low rainfall.
"This was far higher than other seasons when water was available. We project that in 5 years time you will be producing 3 million tonnes of sugarcane which is equal to what Tongaat Hulett is producing and as time goes on you should produce more than Tongaat Hulett since more hectrage will be increased by the coming in of Tokwe Mukorsi" said Chinhuru.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Responsible for Cropping Davis Marapira said yields being produced by out-grower sugarcane farmers were very bad since they are well below standards as compared to other countries like Swaziland.
He said any yield below 100 tones per hectare was not good enough for farmers with certificates.
He also said there should be a qualified farm manager at each farm or the farm owner should always be available since it is one of the requirements of offer letters.
Chiredzi has over 50 000 hectares under sugarcane of which 29 000 are under Tongaat Hullet operations and the rest being under at least 900 outgrower farmers in Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and Triangle.