Small-scale farmers who are members of the Commercial Sugarcane Association of Zimbabwe last year produced at least 42 357, 36 tonnes of raw sugar, a 40 percent increase from 2011, an official said on Friday. The association's secretary-general, Mr Darlington Chiwa, told New Ziana that the high price of sugar encouraged farmers to increase production.
"The increase in raw sugar production is because growing the crop is rewarding, so everyone involved is positive and working hard to earn more," he said.
"Other factors include funding availed under the Successful Rural Sugarcane Farming Community Project and extension services that Tongaat Hulett provides."
When the 2012 marketing season closed in December, raw sugar was fetching US$700 a tonne. Mr Chiwa said most farmers had gained experience in sugarcane production since they had been in the business for the past 10 years.
Prior to the land reform programme, sugar cane production was the monopoly of Tongaat Hulett, a South African company that still controls the local milling and marketing of the crop.
Co-operation between the Government, the southern Lowveld communities, the European Union and Tongaat Hulett is expected to boost rural sugar cane farming.
Already, some 15 000 hectares have been allocated to 870 indigenous farmers who are producing about 20 percent of national output.
Zimbabwe has the potential to produce up to 4,4 million tonnes of sugarcane annually. Sugar cane production takes place under irrigation the Lowveld.