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Small-scale cane farmers arm-twist miller over price

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Small-scale cane farmers arm-twist miller over price


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CHIREDZI-Small-scale sugarcane farmers have delayed harvesting this year after a stalemate with the miller over cane price.
Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ) mill was opened on April 13, 2023, for the 2023 cutting season. Farmers are, however, holding on to their sugarcane.
Zimbabwe Sugar Development Association (ZSDA) Royal chairperson Peter Haruzivishe said the farmers have not started cutting the cane because they have unresolved issues with the miller.
However, Haruzivishe bemoaned the move and said it might cripple sugar production because the harvesting time would have passed.
“We have issues with the miller which must be resolved before the cutting. Under normal circumstances, the cane is harvested at 12 months if it is a ratoon crop and 14 months if it is a new seed plant. The sugarcane should not stay longer than that period in the field because it will lose the sugar,” said Haruzivishe.
Commercial Sugarcane Farmers Association in Zimbabwe (CSFAZ) chairperson Edmore Hwarare echoed the same sentiments and said they will only cut the sugarcane once they reach a consensus with the miller.
“No farmer will cut his cane this season until we reach a consensus on the sugarcane purchase price. The miller pledged US$58 per tonne of raw sugar, and we are yet to reach an agreement,” said Hwarare.
When contacted for comment, THZ Head of Corporate and Industry Affairs, Darlia Garwe, said negotiations are underway.
“There are negotiations which are currently underway to determine payment modalities, and the expectation is that the millers and farmers will reach an agreement soon,” said Garwe.
Studies have shown that if sugarcane stays longer in the field tends to lose Estimated Recoverable Crystals (ERC).
According to a study by Dr Washington Mutatu in 2022, a senior Agricultural and Industrial Research Chemist at Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station (ZSAES), the quality of sugarcane is expressed as the percentage of sugar which is extractable from the sugarcane commonly referred to as ERC%.
In his study, Mutatu states that if sugarcane stays longer in the field, it tends to lose ERC.

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