Editor's Comment

Sugar industry potential poverty buster

IT HAS become clear in recent months that the sugar industry in Zambia is headed for growth.
This is good for the industry, the country’s economy and the citizens.
Already, Zambia Sugar is boasting of increased exports to the European Union.
The company, whose main operations are in Mazabuka, Southern Province, announced this week that its sugar exports to the European Union (EU) countries increased in the 2013/2014 production season to 138,000 metric tonnes from 121,000 metric tonnes in 2012/2013.
In its annual sugar report the company says world prices for the commodity remained depressed in the season under review, but that this did not affect sales and the volume of exports.
The fact that Zambia is able to access the EU market is enough motivation to do more to grow the industry.
Zambia Sugar further reports that cane yields are expected to increase in the 2014/2015 production season because of favourable conditions and stable power supply for irrigation.
We commend Zesco Limited for its contribution to this success story.
Any disruption of power supply would affect irrigation and ultimately impact negatively on the sugar cane yields.
This would entail a reduction in production and subsequently cause a drop in the volume of exports.
We urge Zesco Limited to continue providing electricity to the sugar company because of the important place it occupies in Zambia’s economic development.
A thriving industry will assure the people of Zambia access to affordable sugar and sugar products.
Zambia Sugar Plc has expanded its cane plantations while new players such as Kafue Sugar have emerged on the scene and have already managed to carve out their own share of the market.
In Luapula Province the government is wooing investors to set up sugar plantations and processing plants in Kawambwa, Chembe and Lunga districts.
So far some investors have shown serious interest in the areas.
The efforts by the government to attract more investment in this industry are commendable.
More players will help lower prices because of increased production. They will flood the local market with the commodity.
The new companies will help keep the local market well supplied with affordable sugar.
This will give Zambia Sugar Plc a chance to increase exports to foreign markets, especially the EU.
The fact that the company has been able to sustain exports to the EU is evidence that its products are internationally acceptable.
We would like to see more sugar companies, especially in Luapula and Western provinces which have favourable conditions for cane production.
There is need for increased exports of sugar and sugar products, especially by indigenous companies, to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states and the rest of Africa.
The emergence of new players will not only improve the country’s gross domestic product and gross domestic income per capita, but also create employment for thousands of unemployed citizens.
Since most of these companies are likely to be based in rural areas they will absorb thousands of unemployed youths.
This will complement infrastructure development projects and the industrial value addition clusters in rural areas under the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
Besides those who will be employed directly by the new companies out-grower schemes will also absorb hundreds of local people.
With its vast surface and ground water resources and wetlands dotted across the country Zambia has the potential to flood the entire Africa with sugar.
We therefore urge the government, through the relevant ministries to continue partnering with the private sector to expand the sugar industry.

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