The Government has been implored to refurbish road and rail infrastructure as well as avail adequate water supplies to boost the productivity of sugar cane farmers.
Presenting a petition from sugar cane farmers before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, Chimanimani East legislator Joshua Sacco stated that farmers had raised concern that their output was being drastically reduced due to inefficient resources.
Sacco noted that farmers highlighted water challenges as a major setback since sugarcane requires a lot of water for irrigation.
“The sugar industry relies on bulk water for irrigation which is administered by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and rail transport by NRZ. Both parastatals are in dire need of rehabilitation to enhance viability in the sugar industry. Deteriorating road and rail infrastructure has also resulted in inefficient logistics and therefore meagre competitiveness,” Sacco said.
Sacco noted that the Committee recommended that at least by the end of 2020, the government should have capacitated various ministries which are directly responsible for availing the much-needed resources for the farmers.
“The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement must ensure that ZINWA is capacitated to rehabilitate its canals by end of 2020. ZINWA should adequately supervise the distribution of water to sugarcane growers to ensure equity,” he said.
“Ministry of Industry and Commerce should promote investment or bring more players in the processing, distribution and marketing of sugar to curb hegemony in the entire sugar value chain by the end of November 2020.”
Sacco said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should ensure that the government is represented in the sugar industry boards and that the chairperson of the ZSA Board is an independent person.
He said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should also engage the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement to ensure that sugarcane farmers are given a minimum of 50 ha by the end of 2020.