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New sugarcane seed varieties released

Story by Gay Matambo

THE Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station (ZSAES) has released 19 new sugarcane seed varieties with four of them recommended for immediate use as part of efforts to boost production of the cash crop in the Lowveld area.

In an interview with the ZBC News, ZSAES director, Dr Audrey Mabveni explained how the four sugarcane seed varieties are expected to increase production.

“I’m happy to report that on the 12th of October 2023, the National Sugarcane Varieties Committee met here in the Lowveld and discussed the attributes of the 19 potential sugarcane varieties that we had ready for release and out of those 19, four were recommended for straight out release for use by farmers, another four were provisionally released because of the challenges that may occur if they are milled directly. We are hoping to come up with new technology in the next few years to extract sugar from those that have been provisionally released and that will address issues to do with millability and extracting sugar from such varieties,” said Dr Mabveni.
Sugarcane farmers are equally confident the introduction of the new seed varieties will improve their yields.

“These new sugarcane seed varieties are not only going to boost our yields but our incomes as well,” said a sugarcane farmer.

Another farmer said, “The varieties we had, in terms of sugar content, were very low compared to the ones which have been released. In sugar production we value the sugar content in cane hence we are hopeful that production is going to increase due to these varieties.”

“What I gathered from the seminar is that statistics have shown that as out-growers, we need to improve in terms of production and with the introduction of the new varieties, I think we are in the right direction,” said a farmer.

With sugar production in Zimbabwe mainly done under irrigation, there is an emphasis on improving water conveyancing infrastructure.

“One of the challenges which has been affecting sugarcane production revolves around the provision of water for irrigation. What has been happening is that the hectarage under sugarcane is increasing and the number of sugarcane farmers, but the water infrastructure has remained constant which means it is no longer copying up with the increased number of hectarage and the number of farmers. We would like to thank the government for constructing the Tugwi Mukosi Dam which is nearby and if new canals are developed from the dam, it can address this water challenge,” said National Competitiveness Commission chief economist, Mr Douglas Muzimba.

According to the National Competitiveness Commission survey conducted last year, 65% of the sugar produced in the Lowveld is for the domestic market, while 35% is exported as raw sugar.

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