By ZBC Reporter
Government is assessing challenges affecting the competitiveness of the sugar value chain to create a conducive business operating environment in the sector.
The National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) met various service providers and visited some of the sugar cane farms around Chiredzi district where out grower farmers highlighted several issues affecting competitiveness in the local sugar production industry.
The main challenge we face as out grower farmers is the issue of division of proceeds that is the money that the miller charges for processing cane into sugar. Currently it stands at 77% to the farmer and 23 to the miller and we feel it’s too high. At one time it was reduced to 17,35% and farmers got some kind of reprieve. We have challenges that include unavailability of electrical power 24/7. About 40% of the industry depends on electricity.
We face various challenges that include high cost in production including fertilizers. This reduces our yield and the amount of money that a farmer gets. Such engagements by NCC are important because our government is going to hear our concerns.
The issue of unavailability of water is more crucial to some of us downstream. My farm is rocky and the water I’m being given from the Tongaat side is not enough. I hope the commission heard our plight as out grower farmers, said some of the farmers.
Speaking to ZBC News Executive Director National Competitiveness Commission Mr Phillip Phiri Issues raised during the inquiry will be included in a report which is meant to come up with recommendations to address competitiveness gaps in the value chain.
We are investigating the sugar value chain. They are a lot of challenges that the farmers are facing in the farms and include issues to do with irrigation, financing, retooling and also on the milling side they raised issues which include energy supply and availability of funding for them to expand and increase productivity,he said.
It is estimated that out grower farmers will produce 1,1 million tonnes of cane during the current milling season, while Tongaat Hullet through Hippo Valley, Triangle and Mwenezana Estates will produce close to 2,5 million tones.
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