Africa Sugar Digest, Vol. I, No 9, April 2010

Zambia and Malawi: Fatalities in the sugar sector

An incident on 6 April cost the life of one worker at the Kafue Factory near Lusaka, while two others were left in critical condition, reports Kunda Mutabele, from NUPAW-Zambia.  Although police were investigating and no official report was yet available, it was known that the workers were engaged in welding operations, preparing the factory for the crushing season, when fire broke up. Because the workers were welding from the outside and the inside of the machinery at the same time, some were unable to escape.

A casual worker labouring in Dwangwa’s agricultural department died on Friday 9 April reports Keeper Gumbo with SPAWUM, the Malawian sugar workers union. According to initial reports, the worker died while cutting of trees for firewood which is used to start up the boilers, as the crushing season has just started. Dwangwa is an Illovo Sugar subsidiary.

Zimbabwe: Villagers face eviction to make way for biofuel crops

The construction of a USD 600 million ethanol plant in Chisumbanje, Manicaland province has provoked protests and claims that it may result in thousands of families being evicted from the area, wrote Tichaona Sibanda in a report available on the Internet dated on 30 March 2010. The plant, which government says will supply 80 percent of the country’s ethanol requirements, is being built on land owned by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) in Arda Chisumbanje and Arda Middle Sabi. Establishing the cane plantation to supply the factory may have a negative impact on 250,000 people living along the Sabi River. The project is owned by Macdom Pvt (Ltd) and Ratings Investment, and led by Billy Rautenbach, a figure linked to Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF. It was said that the cane plantation in Chisumbanje will cover 40,000 hectares, and Rautenbach is trying to acquire an additional 20,000 hectares in Chipinge South, Chipinge West and Musikavanhu.

Kenya: Protests against evictions by Kwale Sugar

Hundreds of Msambweni residents took to the streets on 11 April to protest what they said is non-compliance by the Kwale International Sugar Company of an agreement to resettle and compensate families who will be displaced by the company’s cane plantation. Protesters also said that some government officials are colluding with the company to frustrate and mistreat them. Kwale Sugar had said earlier that it will start next September the construction of a factory on Kenya’s coastal area, and its plantation will cover 10,000 hectares of own lands and lands under 900 registered farmers.

Uganda: Sugar companies ready to invest in ethanol; sugar production up

Uganda’s sugar industry may invest in ethanol production if the government approves a new policy on fuel blending, the chairman of the Uganda Sugar Cane Technologists’ Association (USCTA) said. The policy along with the provision of adequate incentives can create a guaranteed market, and USCTA says that the sector is ready to invest USD 100 million to produce 60,000 litres of ethanol per day, within two years. USCTA also estimates that the sugar sector can produce up to about 28 million litres of anhydrous ethanol per year, which can be mixed with 243 million litres of petrol to produce the so-called E10 fuel (ratio of about 1:9).

Uganda’s sugar production is forecast to rise to 318,000 tonnes in 2010, more than 10 percent from the 287,000 tonnes achieved in 2009. Production was boosted by increased cane supplies and expanded crushing capacity. Production has more than doubled in the past 10 years, but Uganda is still a sugar-deficit country, with consumption reaching 325,000 tonnes last year. Consumption is expected to grow to an annual 700,000 tonnes by 2030.

Uganda: Outgrowers Resume Supplying Kakira

Local papers said that outgrowers resumed cane deliveries to Kakira on 6 April, almost a week after they had decided not to supply the mill, following reports that the Madhvani Group, owner of Kakira, wanted to claim over 500 acres for cane growing, which would have displaced some 20,00 people from the lands. The company held meetings with outgrowers and politicians to explain what it deemed to be a misunderstanding. The company will try and open the lands,  and said it will negotiate with the people residing on it. Kakira is reported as processing 7,000 tonnes of cane per day, with about 60 percent supplied by outgrowers.

Zimbabwe: Hippo Valley to increase production

Hippo Valley Estates Ltd has launched a recovery program focused on increasing cane yields and rehabilitating outgrowers lands. The country’s sugar sector plans to reach its full installed capacity of 600,000 tonnes of sugar per year, with Hippo accounting for half of it.

Zimbabwe’s sugar production in 2009 dropped 13 percent to 258,713 tonnes compared to 297,865 tonnes produced in 2008, while Hippo’s share fell by almost 25 percent from 117,348 tonnes in 2008 to 88,122 tonnes in 2009. Hippo said that the shortfall was a result of the negative macro-economic conditions in 2008, which affected production in 2009. For instance, the limited and delayed application of fertilizers and herbicides in 2008 meant a decrease in cane yields; while mill operations faced severe problems, which resulted in a large amount of cane not harvested; cane that is now carried over to the 2010 season.

Hippo Valley is the country’s second largest sugar producer. Its 12,400 hectare estate is located in Chiredzi (Zimbabwe’s south-eastern region) and employs about 8,000 people. The South African Tongaat Hulett is Hippo’s largest shareholder through its wholly-owned subsidiary Triangle Sugar Corporation Ltd, which controls a 50.35 percent stake in Hippo Valley.

Africa Sugar Digest is produced thanks to the IUF Global Sugar project in East and Southern Africa. It appears as news becomes available. Contributions are welcome. The IUF African sugar project is supported by the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Auto Workers (SJF-CAW), with contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Labour International Development Program of the Canadian Labour Congress (LIDP-CLC).

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