Government failing to tap into sugar industry potential, says MP

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By Alois Vinga

CHIREDZI West legislator, Farai Musikavanhu has accused government of failing to tap into the vast economic potential offered by the country’s sugar industry which he says has remained a viable sector at a time the country was experiencing economic difficulties.

Musikavanhu, who is a seasoned agronomist, was speaking during a Value Chain Analysis workshop held in Harare on Thursday.

The meeting was also attended Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is keen to bring back foreign businesses which abandoned the country some years back citing economic turmoil and Zimbabwe’s failure to respect property rights.

Government’s efforts to revive productive sectors have been seen in areas such as mining, tourism and manufacturing.

However, Musikavanhu strongly felt the sugar industry was a low hanging fruit and a sector that was operating at around 75 percent capacity which was not being given its due recognition by government.

The lawmaker told Minister Ndlovu during the event that the lucrative industry was not getting enough of government support.

On his part, Minister Ndlovu pledged government’s commitment to working hand in hand with the sector’s players in developing the industry.

In a separate interview with NewZim Business, Musikavanhu said that Tokwe Mukosi Dam had vast potential to lift the fortunes of the sugar industry “depending on how the waters are deployed”.

“… We have conflicting interests between crop production for food security and sugar production,” he said.

“Tokwe Mukosi has potential to cover between 25 000 to 30 000 hectares depending on the water duty.

“We can also set up another sugar mill because, apart from the two mills we have in Chiredzi and this will boost the sector’s growth by almost one third.”

Musikavanhu said the initiative was able to further increase its annual revenue injection into the economy from the current US$500 million to US$750 million.

To boost the industry, he added, the Runde-Tende Dam in Masvingo can also be constructed for irrigation in the Mwenezi and Chilonga area.

“In the Zambezi valley, we can do more 100 000 hectares which will position the country as a huge producer and exporter of ethanol,” he said.