Failure to curb sugar imports will result in stockpile of local product
Zimbabwe could be stuck with nearly 100 000 tonnes of locally-produced sugar by March next year unless imports that are wreaking havoc in the local sucrose industry are curbed.
An influx of cheap sugar imports after the lifting of duty on products such as sugar by the Government is spelling disaster for the local sugar industry threatening the viability of more than 1300 commercial out grower farmers and over 20 000 workers employed by Tongaat Huletts that run sugar mills and plantations at Hippo Valley and Triangle estates.
The proliferation of cheap imports has precipitated a severe cash squeeze in the local industry resulting in Tongaat staying and delaying payment for cane deliveries to farmers, that were due on 15 September.
In a notice to farmers, Tongaat said it was struggling to mobilise sufficient funds to pay for August cane deliveries because of depressed local sugar sales.
There are fears the situation could worsen as the year progresses, a development that may collapse the local sugar industry, leaving farmers and millers in the red.
In a cane proceeds statement to Zimbabwe Sugar Sales (ZSS) board members, dated 11 September, the company’s General Manager Tracey Mutaviri painted a gloomy picture of the state of local sugar sales.
“As a result of depressed local sales, stock has been building up and if the current trend persists to March 2024, stocks will potentially close at 94 000 tonnes by March 31, 2024, which will be 64 000 tonnes more than the planned closing stock of 30 000 tonnes. — Herald/Chronicle Business Writers.