By Gay Matambo
Production issues, pricing and other gaps in the sugar industry took centre stage when sugarcane farmers and the ZANU PF Masvingo Provincial leadership met at Mkwasine Country Club this weekend.
Representatives of sugarcane farmers associations who spoke to this news crew noted that the interface meeting was a platform to discuss issues hampering sugarcane production which include pricing and transport costs.
“If the Sugar Act is amended, most farmers will be able to benefit from this move,” a representative of the farmers said.
Another said, “When we were allocated these farms, there was enough water to irrigate the sugarcane plantations, but now that new farms are being allocated land in those farms, water is no longer sufficient.”
“We wish to have independent laboratories which are not controlled by the miller in terms of ECR testing,” added another.
It also emerged during the interface meeting that plans to set up an independent mill in Mkwasine estate are underway.
Zimbabwe Sugar Development Association Chairman, Mr Elisha Tamirepi said, “Establishment of another independent mill here in Mkwasine is at an advanced stage and we are very happy such that most of the challenges which include transport issues will be a thing of the past once the mill has been established.”
ZANU PF Masvingo provincial chairman, Cde Robson Mavenyengwa highlighted that the interface will inform the ruling party on the challenges facing sugarcane farmers.
“Our farmers have a number of challenges, so they called us the party leadership in Masvingo Province to talk about those challenges. Some of the challenges include water shortages and the Sugar Act of 1964 which has not been ammended, which was favourable to the white farmers,” he said.
Last year, government awarded sugarcane strategic crop status to enable farmers to access incentives that include pesticides and fertilisers that are available to growers of cash crops such as tobacco and cotton.