Chiredzi (New Ziana) – The good rains received in the 2021/22 farming season will significantly boost the sugar industry here as most irrigation water supply dams are full, a leading producer has said.
Hippo Valley Estates Limited, one of the country’s biggest sugar cane producers, said in a report for the year ended 31 December 2020, that the good rains had ensured irrigation water security for at least three seasons.
“The above-normal rainfall season experienced to date, has significantly enhanced water security for the industry.
With Tugwi-Mukosi Dam spilling for the first time since commissioning in May 2017, and Lake Mutirikwi at over 60 percent of its capacity,75 percent of the sugar industry’s irrigated cane area is adequately covered for at least three seasons,- (at normal water duty). With the rainfall season forecast to continue until the end of March, Lake Mutirikwi is likely to impound more water, thereby further improving industry water security,” it said in the report.
“As a consequence, total industry sugar production for the forthcoming 2021/22 production season is forecast to increase on the back of the projected improvements in yields, cane quality and milling efficiencies. Efforts to maximize sugar production through yield improvement initiatives on both company-owned and private farmer-owned cane fields are on-going, with special focus on strategic partnerships to rehabilitate all derelict and low lying yielding private farmer land to above the break even yield of 70 tonnes/ha.”
Meanwhile, the government has offered the company a 99-year lease on part of its land, and renewed its milling license for a further 20 years.
“The Government has since assured the company that it would be granted security tenure by way of a 99-year lease on Hippo Valley North (23 979 hectares) whilst maintaining freehold title on Hippo Valley South (16 433 hectares). The requisite physical planning and administrative processes are currently underway and nearing completion, paving way for the issuance of the 99-year lease. The company has also had its sugar milling license renewed for another twenty year period ending December 2040. These positive actions from Government provide further confidence and stability to operations,” Hippo Valley Estates said.