Rufiji Sugar Plant Takes Off Next Year

MORE than 10,000 residents of Rufiji district in Coast region will be employed by a sugar plant that is expected to take off in the district next year, it has been learnt.

√É‚Äö√ā¬†Addressing a press conference in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, the Rufiji Sugar Plant project coordinator, Mr Kiondo Mahanyu, said that 20 tractors and other farming equipment will be dispatched from India soon by his company for the development of sugarcane farms in Rufiji.

The machines will be handled by local people. "The sugar plant will also construct feeder roads and trunk roads in the region providing connectivity for the local community, in addition to transportation of sugarcane to the factory," he said.

According to Mr Mahanyu, the sugar factory will crush 125,000 tonnes of sugar annually. The production is expected to reduce shortages of sugar in the country.

According to Rufiji Sugar Plant Manager Bharat Kabra, the project entails acquisition and registration of 12,000 hectares of land suitable for sugarcane farming in Phase One of the project.

The proposed project will involve procurement of a complete sugar mill with distillery planned at 5,000 TCD for processing of sugarcane to produce sugar and utilizing the sugar processing wastes to produce fuel ethanol," said Mr Kabra.

The wastes will also be utilized to generate power in-house which will cater for all internal electricity requirements, selling excess capacity to the national grid through Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco).

Further plans of this project include support to the establishment of block farming at our growers level, out grower organizational development, the rehabilitation of farm tracks and cane access roads for sugarcane outgrowers.

"Trust Farms meant to support infrastructure maintenance will also be established. The project also aids efforts to improve synchronization of farming among small holders and improved agricultural practices and logistics management," he said.

The project site, with land spanning 12,000 hectares, was recently acquired from Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA). It is located along Lower Rufiji River basin in Utunge Ward, specifically in Tawi, Utunge and Namwage villages.

Tanzania's local sugar supply deficit is supplemented by expensive imports. The government allowed emergency importation of 120,000 tonnes of sugar to reduce the supply-demand gap.

According to the Private Sector Development Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Tanzania's sugar demand stood at more than 330,000 tonnes last year, while its production was pegged at 250,000 tonnes, this anomaly created a deficit of 80,000 tonnes.

Following shortage of the sweetener in the other East African Community (EAC) partner states, sugar is smuggled there where it fetches higher prices. The situation has led to shortage of the commodity in the country.The shortage, according to most analysts, is behind the spiralling of wholesale, sub-wholesale and retail prices of sugar.

Kenya and Uganda are known to be facing an acute shortage of sugar, a situation that has prompted smuggling of the sweetener from Tanzania, where the price is lower.

The demand for sugar is by far above supply and the gap is not likely to be filled by current manufacturing companies in the foreseeable future.

So far, the current production in the country is only about two thirds (67 per cent) of total demand, despite the availability of plenty of arable land and a climate that is suitable for sugarcane cultivation.

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