Sugar shortages and sky-high prices are foreseen in Zimbabwe. This is after a part of the Hippo Valley sugarcane plantation, owned by Tongaat, was destroyed by a hailstorm on Monday.
Chiredzi sugarcane farmer Daniel Kadema said the winds that came with Cyclone Freddy were devastating. He is one of several contract farmers utilising Hippo Valley estate.
“Our crops were flattened and it’s going to affect our yield. It will even make harvesting more difficult. But there’s nothing we can do. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.
This development comes on top of the already strained trading relations between farmers and sugar refinery companies.
Economists forecast sugar shortages and say the increase in raw sugar prices will be a contributing factor to the looming shortage.
“Prices will increase astronomically,” said economist Malvin Chidembo. Contract farmer Simon Mutori said that now that their crops have been ruined farmers’ worst fears have been realised.
“The little money we were getting from the crop is now gone. Most of our sugarcane crops were flattened,” he said.
Tongaat head of corporate and industry affairs Dr Dahlia Garwe said she is not in the Lowveld and is still waiting to hear what the extent of the damage is.
“However, [judging from the size of] current and projected stocks there is more than adequate sugar for the country,” she said.
Small-scale sugarcane farmers, who supply 45% of the country’s raw sugar, were for the past two weeks embroiled in a price feud with Gold Star, the main producers, over the increase of raw sugar prices.
Gold Star, which had closed down its refinery plant, had said that the price of raw sugar from small-scale farmers was too high, while farmers said they were selling their products at a loss.
This article was originally published on Scrolla