25 February 2005

Zimbabwe: Water Woes Affect Sugar Production

Harare — THE Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries Corporation (ZSR) said this week that water problems at its Harare refinery are affecting production.

"We currently have got a constraint of water supplies from the Harare City Council.

"On a daily basis, the city council reduces the volume of water that comes through to us and that affects our production. We rarely have a normal day at our refinery because we either have the problem of water, poor quality raw sugar and power cuts," Mr Sithole said.

Mr Sithole indicated that production at the refinery was also severely affected by power outages effected by Zesa Holdings last month and the company incurred losses as a result of the power cuts, which also damaged some of the refinery's equipment "We lost quite a bit of production and money, and some of our equipment was also damaged as a result of power cuts. It's an issue that we have taken up with Zesa," he said.

Mr Sithole declined to divulge the financial losses incurred by the company, only conceding that they had already replaced the damaged equipment.

He said production at this time of the year was also affected by the low quality of raw sugar due to the fact that the sugar cane used was from last year.

The company hoped to have exhausted the old crop by the start of the new season at the beginning of April, he said.

Mr Sithole said there was not much potential for sugar exports into the region for ZSR because most regional countries were now producing surplus sugar.

Currently, ZSR exports a total of 32 000 tonnes of sugar per annum to Namibia and Botswana.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Sugar Sales said there were sufficient stocks of raw sugar in the country to meet local and export demand.

ZSS general manager Mr Steve Frampton said Zimbabwe was meeting its annual sugar export quota to the European Union without any problems.

"We have sufficient sugar for the local market and for our export requirements," he said.

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