Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi Dams to spur sugar cane production in Lowveld
Chiredzi (New Ziana) –The increased water capacity between Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi Dams will support expansion of sugarcane and maize production in the Lowveld Zimbabwe, an industry player has said.
In a statement accompanying the full year results to March 2022, Hippo Valley chief executive officer Aiden Mhere said the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed sugar producer intended to capitalise on the increased water availability to increase output.
Commissioned in 2017, Tugwi-Mukosi Dam has an estimated capacity of 1, 8 billion liters, making it the largest inland dam in the country.
The dam’s water holding capacity is sufficient to irrigate an additional 25 000 hectares of land in the Lowveld.
According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Tugwi-Mukosi reached 100 percent of its holding capacity during the 2021-22 rainy season while Lake Mutirikwi filled up to 98,3 percent of its potential.
Mhere said said the two dams were set to sustain irrigation expansion for farms in the Lowveld, particularly for production of sugarcane and the country’s staple grain, maize.
He said to realize the envisioned production growth, the sugar industry was working closely with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to improve the water conveyancing infrastructure to cope with the increasing farming and irrigation activities in the region.
“With Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi dams close to full capacity, the industry is set to accelerate opportunities for horizontal expansion with new sugarcane projects, feeding off this robust water system, mainly for the benefit of new farmers who are keen to supply the cane to the mills,” he said.
Mhere said Tongaat Hullets was extending technical support to farmers as well as by Tongaat Hullets in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Sugarcane Experiment and Research Station (ZSAES), with the programme expected to significantly contribute to yield improvements in coming years mainly on the back of new sugar cane varieties being introduced.
In terms of performance, sugar production at Hippo Valley Estates in the period under review rose by three percent to 209 510 tons from 204 384 tons in the previous year attributable to better cane quality and favourable mill efficiencies.
Deliveries by private farmers grew by 31 percent due to an increase in area harvested, largely attributable to newly developed areas under the Kilimanjaro project and carry-over cane from the previous season.