ECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF SUGAR CANE PRODUCTION IN THE LOWVELD OF ZIMBABWE 1
Clainos Chidoko and 2Ledwin Chimwai Department of Economics, 2Department of Banking and Finance Great Zimbabwe University, Faculty of Commerce Box 1235, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Abstract: The study sought to investigate the economic factors affecting the productivity of small scale sugar-cane farmers in the Lowveld of Zimbabwe with particular reference to Chipiwa farmers in Mkwasine area in Chiredzi District. The main objective of the study was to bring to light the economic challenges that contribute towards the low productivity by small scale sugar cane farmers so that the relevant stakeholders can assist to rectify the situation. The research sampled 100 farmers. The descriptive survey method was used to identify and explain the economic challenges faced by sugar cane farmers. The research showed that while sugar cane industry is a critical sector to the economy, its productivity is going down. It was discovered that the low productivity is largely due to failure to plough out old cane, lack of equipment for operations, low prices paid for the harvested cane, high transport and haulage charges, limited training and unavailability of inputs. This is largely due to limited access to cheap finance and credit. The research recommends that farmers be given cheap finance and easily access credit using their crop as collateral security. Key words: Sugar Cane, Sugar Cane Productivity, Sugar Production, Economic Challenges
INTRODUCTION Sugar cane is a subtropical and tropical crop which needs lots of sun provided that its roots are not water-logged (Zimbabwe Sugar Association, 1982). According to a research carried out by Sserunkuma and Kiniera(2006) 127 countries worldwide produce sugar and 30% of it is traded internationally while the rest is consumed locally. In Zimbabwe it takes twelve months to reach maturity although the period varies widely around the world. The Lowveld has been identified as one of the best places to produce sugar at competitive costs in the world. The climate is ideal for sugar cane and the distances from the mill are quite manageable. Sugar cane is a high labour intensive crop especially for weeding and harvesting and it is an important user of agro-chemicals like fertilizers and herbicides. Harvesting is done by chopping down the stems and leaving the roots to regrow. The crop is essential in providing the nation with sweeteners for all industries, earning the country foreign
exchange, generating electricity, making molasses for cattle feed or for distillation and ethanol production. The number of by-products from sugar cane outweighs other commercial crops. Despite the benefits that can be reaped from sugar cane, production has gone down over the years. Generally all the farming categories have had declining sugar cane yields over the six year period. Mkwasine Estate is owned by Hippo Valley and Triangle with 50% shareholdings each. Statement of the problem: Sugar cane productivity has gone down over the years for Chipiwa farmers despite their vast experience. What are the economic challenges they are facing? Purpose of the research:The aim of the research is to: • Investigate economic challenges faced by Chipiwa Sugar cane producers in Mkwasine. • Explore the ways in which the challenges faced can be overcome • Advise the producers and enlighten policy makers on areas, which need attention for improvement and for corrective purposes.
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Clainos Chidoko, et.al., Int. J. Eco. Res., 2011 2(5), 1-13
Significance of the study: The study sought to provide empirical evidence on the decline of the industry and provide a platform through which the policy makers can assist to resuscitate the industry. It intends to provide a home-grown policy...