3 investors eye sugar industry

THREE potential investors have expressed interest in tapping into investments in the country’s sugar industry amid plans to set up a new milling plant in the Lowveld, which could break the Tongaat Hulett-dominated monopoly in the sugar-producing industry.

Government is working on facilitating the widening of the sector, as it believes this would result in improved quality, fair practice and enhanced competition for the benefit of ordinary consumers.

Tongaat’s subsidiary, Hippo Valley, one of the significant sugar producers in Zimbabwe, produces approximately 50 percent of the local sugar industry output,and bagasse generated during the milling season is used for electricity generation, producing up to 30 megawatts at optimum capacity.

Speaking at Senate on Thursday, outgoing Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, who has since been assigned to the Environment, Climate and Wildlife portfolio, said in line with the ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ mantra, Government was ready to facilitate new investments in the sugar industry to ensure its growth.

She said so far, three potential investors have expressed interest in investing in the sector, with two of them already having visited the Lowveld.

Without naming the investors, Dr Nyoni said both the investors and the farmers, have expressed interest in working together to set up a new sugar milling plant.

“It is important to note that the setting up of a sugar milling plant in the Lowveld will address the following key strategic issues in the reduction of transport costs for farmers, especially in the Mkwasine area, who have to travel 50 kilometres to the nearest sugar mill, ensuring that the sugar cane cut from the fields is delivered to the mill within 24 hours to avoid loss of quality of cane, and bringing competition to the monopoly of Tongaat Hulett, the sole miller/producer of sugar in the country,” she said.

“The ministry has since referred the three investors to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Authority (Zida) for consideration. 

“We believe the setting up of a new sugar milling plant, especially in the Mkwasine area, will successfully break the monopoly in the sugar sector and allow competition in the industry.”

The minister said the coming in of new investors was expected to bring about improved quality of sugar products, as well as reduce the price of sugar to benefit local consumers.

“The companies will compete for employees with attractive payment packages and employment benefits to attract promising talent. This will              benefit the economy in the end,” said Dr Nyoni.

She said the sugar industry has been prioritised as one of the top 10 value chains to drive the industrialisation agenda in line with National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1) objectives.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=TX9NrZuGut0%3Ffeature%3Doembed

The other nine value chains are; dairy, cotton, leather, soya, fertiliser, pharmaceutical, bus and truck, iron and steel and plastic waste.

“The industry employs around 23 000 people (Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe employs 15 000 people at peak) and has the potential to increase up to 25 000 people after the completion of Kilimanjaro Sugar Project, where to date 1 000 hectares out of 4 000 hectares of land have been cleared for production of sugarcane,” said Dr Nyoni.

“My ministry is in the process of developing a comprehensive Zimbabwe Sugar Sector Strategy, which will give direction to the entire industry through addressing issues affecting the value chain.

“The key highlights of the strategy are retooling or upgrading of the two sugar mills, increasing yield per hectare and increasing the total sugar production.” — @Lo7246Lovelyn.

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