By Ndafadza Madanha
SUGAR producer Tongaat Hulett says favorable conditions now exist for it to commence the development of 4 000 hectares of virgin land in Chiredzi under “Project Kilimanjaro” into irrigated sugar cane fields at the beginning of next year after securing bulk irrigation water.
The multi-million dollar Project Kilimanjaro which initially started in 2014 but stalled with only about 200 hectares of land having been cleared is now expected to be complete by the second half of 2020.
It was anticipated in 2014 that the 4000 hectares cleared under Project Kilimanjaro would benefit over 200 small holder farmers under the company’s sugarcane out grower scheme.
“The company has now determined that favorable conditions now exist, on the back of secure bulk irrigation water, to accelerate implementation of the Kilimanjaro project as previously advertised in 2014. The project entails the development of 4 000ha of virgin land to irrigated fields which will supply sugarcane to the Tongaat Hulett sugar mills. The project will commence in January 2019 with a target completion date of March 2020 for all tendered works and all cane establishment to first irrigation by 30 September 2020,” said the company.
Tongaat Hulett operations in Zimbabwe comprise Triangle ltd and Hippo Valley Estate located in Masvingo province and employs 17 000 workers at peak period.
The completion of the Tokwe-Mukosi has bolstered irrigation capacity in Masvingo province as it has capacity to irrigate 25 000 hectares.
Currently the company’s sugar production operations consist of two sugar mills with a combined installed capacity to process in excess of 4.8 million tonnes of sugarcane annually delivered from both private farmers and its own cane to produce 640 000 tons of sugar.
In addition to this Tongaat has installed capacity to produce 140 000 tons of refined white sugar, 41 million litres of fuel and industrial grade ethanol and 42 000 tons of stockfeed.
The company is also one of the leading cattle producers in the country with an estimated herd of about 6000.