CHIREDZI - Tongaat Hullet Zimbabwe (THZ) managing director, Sydney Mutsambiwa has lamented the sharp decline in sugarcane production in Mkwasine Estates saying farmers there must pull up their socks to improve productivity.
Production in the estates declined from 850 - 900 000 to 500 000 tons, a consequence of what many people say was the impulsive seizure of the land from Tongaat Hullet and its parcelling to inexperienced and poorly equipped indigenous farmers.
"To those who are fond of mathematics, Mkwasine Estates – over the years – produced an average of 850 - 900 000 tons of sugarcane every year. After some time, the yields began to decline to a maximum of 500 000 tons of cane per year meaning there is a 50 percent gap with regards to the installed capacity we once had.
Mutsambiwa encouraged Mkwasine farmers to make full use of the recently upgraded Nandi-Mkwasine railway line to transport their produce.
"Most of us here are aware that our sugarcane from Mkwasine was once transported through railway line but over the past years, it became a thing of the past.
"Meaning to say that the commissioning of Nandi Mkwasine railway line must take us back to our normal capacity we once had. So as Mkwasine farmers, we have a mammoth task ahead of us in teams of improving productivity," said Mutsambiwa.
He also indicated that the decline in sugarcane production in Mkwasine was costing farmers huge sums of profits.
"At full production capacity of 800 000 tons of sugarcane, we would be expecting an average of 100 000 tons of raw sugar from Mkwasine with an average cost of US$570 per tonne. The total value of sugar from Mkwasine in a normal year at full production capacity should be around US$57 million. So we have to pull up our socks," said Mutsambiwa.
After Tongaat Hullet pulled out of Mkwasine, infrastructure has crumbled; with a clinic, sports facilities and other amenities falling into shocking disrepair.local