Ethiopia is undertaking mega sugar development projects to increase its annual sugar production, meet domestic demand and export to the international market. The construction of the new sugar factories is currently underway in different parts of the country.
The construction of Tendaho and Wolkayit sugar factories is being accelerated and are nearing their final stage. Extensive efforts are also being exerted to expand and increase the production capacity of the existing sugar factories.
In this regard, the Sugar Corporation recently announced that it has carried out various activities in the last quarter of the this fiscal year to facilitate sugar development projects in line with the target set in the Growth and Transformation Plan. Adviser to the Corporation's General Director, and Deputy Director General of Legal and Public Relations Divisions, Asfaw Dingamo said that the Corporation is carrying out evaluations with the concerned bodies, factories, and projects to identify challenges in order to create friendly environment to the development of the sector.
He indicated that in the last three months of this budget year, the Corporation offered capacity building trainings to the Corporation's management staff, and employees of the new sugar development factories, and project coordinators. Out of 2,500, 300 women from different management and leadership level took part in the training. Extensive effort is also underway to finalize the expansion of the existing sugar factories with the shortest time possible, he said adding, as part of such endeavours, during the last quarter of this fiscal year, 80 per cent of the Kessem Sugar Factory has been finalized while the construction of the new Wenji-Addis factory has reached 87 per cent.
He further noted that the Corporation is currently undertaking new sugar development projects as well as making every effort to bring about the completion of the ongoing sugar development projects at Tendaho. Having completed 80 per cent of the construction of the factory, Tendho is expected to introduce pilot production in the coming months.
He further said that in order to speed up the construction of the new sugar factories, study on the design of the factories, irrigation, road construction and other infrastructural activities has been carried out.
Wenji, Metehara and Fincha sugar factories have the capacity of producing 300,000 tonnes of sugar per year. "We have been trying to solve shortage of sugar supply through importing 180, 000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes of sugar for the domestic demand for sugar has already risen to 450,000 tonnes. However, when the expansion and construction of new factories gets completed the country will be able to produce 500,000 tonnes of sugar and hence will be able to fulfill the domestic demand from locally produced sugar,"he added.
According to a survey conducted at national level, the country has over 500,000 hectares of land suitable for sugarcane plantation. Asfaw noted that the Corporation has planned to build ten new sugar factories within five years. Moreover, the Corporation is planning to export sugar as of 2006 after the completion of the ten new sugar factories including Kessem Welkayt, Beles and other six new factories. Tendaho sugar factory with the a total area of 50,000 hectars of sugarcane plantation and which is now under construction in Afar State is the largest sugar mill in the country. The construction process of this large factory started in 2005 way before the establishment of the Corporation and took many years due to lack of implementing capacity of local and foreign contractors and other related social and administrative problems.
It is now going very well following corrective measures taken by the Corporation. The mill which is going to be constructed in two phases will have a crashing capacity of 13,000 tonnes of sugar cane per day. When the construction comes to a final stage, the factory will have a total capacity to produce 26,000 tonnes of sugar, 55.4 million liter ethanol and 120 mega watt electricity per annum. The factory is also expected to create 42,000 jobs in the local community.
Asfaw said Kessem Sugar Factory which will be erected in Afar State, at a cost of two billion birr, is also underway. Sugar cane plantation is carried out on 20,000 hectares of land.Sugar cane plantation is already underway. Sugar cane_ is cultivated on 1,225 hectares of land. Up to 2,700 hectares of land can be cultivated. Besides creating up to 12,000 jobs, the_ project would enable the pastoral community to converge and settle in a village and engage in crop development. The factory is expected to have a total capacity to_ crush 100, 000 quintals of sugar cane a day.
By the end of the five year growth and transformation plan, the annual production of sugar and ethanol at Tendaho is expected to reach 619,000 tonnes and 55,405 m3 respectively. It is the biggest plant in the country which is expected to start producing sugar by 2005, and ethanol by 2006._ It also takes the lion's share in the total amount of sugar produced for export in the very near future while it will contribute 73 MW electric powers to the national grid by the end of the GTP.
According to a document obtained from the Corporation the other sugar project which currently underway is Wolkayit, which laying on an area of 25,000 hectares of land which will be used for sugarcane plantation. The factory which is located in Tigray state will have a capacity of producing 12,000 tonnes sugar. The factory, when it reaches its full production capacity, is expected to produce 284,000 tones of sugar and 26,750 m3 ethanol per annum. A series of consultation forums have been conducted by the government in which all stakeholders participated and consensus has been reached on the fact that the construction of the dam would not cause damage to the neighbouring monastery.
Rather it essentially will have a great importance to the locality and monastery as well. Wolkayt is remote and undeveloped area. The people live in backwardness struggling with very hostile environment. With no social service and infrastructural facilities in place. But now with the advent of the development undertaking of the sugar corporation they will be beneficiaries, Asfaw added.
He noted that at the very beginning of the project, around 183 members of 15 micro and small enterprise have secured jobs through engaging in supplying metal and building stones, electrification, sanitary and agro stone construction, loading and unloading as well as food preparation.
According to Asfaw, the local community is now aware of the fact that they will have access to schools, health centres, water, electricity, telephone lines, roads etc. Kuraz sugar development project, which is found in South Nation, Nationalities and People State (SNNPS) is also one among the three new projects the corporation is carrying out to realize the goal set in the sector. Out of the overall ten sugar factories planned to be built within the GTP period, six factories with a capacity of 12,000 tera each are located at the South Omo Zone. These factories by the time they reach at their full production capacity each of them are expected to produce 278,00 tonnes of sugar and 26,162 m3 ethanol per annum. As part of the project 20,652 residential houses will be built. Access roads that will connect the plantation to the factories and villages will be constructed as well. Construction of vast irrigation infrastructures and dams will also be undertaken to cultivate sugar cane for factories.