Published On: Wed, Mar 27th, 2019

New cane varieties to boost Zimbabwe’s sugar output

Hippo Valley Estates

Hippo Valley Estates

from PATRICK CHITONGO in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe
CHIREDZI – ZIMBABWE is anticipating increased production of sugar following the discovery of 19 new cane varieties.

Test have proven the new varieties to produce better yields than the current types that are outdated and providing reduced yields due to generic exhaustion.

It is expected the new sugarcane varieties will be ready for planting in the next two seasons.

However, they will be introduced to farmers and stakeholders at the
Lowveld Agricultural Show later this year in the south-eastern district of Chiredzi.

Cane sugar giant producers Tongaat Hulett have their southern Africa’s largest operations in Zimbabwe, especially in Hippo Valley and Triangle, Chiredzi district.

Dr Leo Thokoza Mpofu, who specialises in plant breeding at the Zimbabwe Sugarcane Association (ZSA), confirmed the plans.

“”he new varieties are now at some small plots in Hippo Valley. We are yet to give names to the varieties,” he said at a field day in Chiredzi.

“We are currently bulking them from these small plots so that we have enough seed for everyone. We are also going to make demonstrations after meeting with the Variety Release Control Board. All the varieties are certified,” Mpofu said.

He said the association was exploring solutions to finance tissue lab
technology, which would culminate in a speedy propagation of the
varieties.

Mpofu disclosed the latest sugar cane types would have been available immediately had it not been for financial constraints to speed the technology.

Thus, they would depend on the old bulking system.

“We are faced with financial problems to buy implements that can help to do our job faster. If we are going to continue using our old system, these new varieties will be available to farmers after two years because the bulking process is very slow,” Mpofu explained.

Currently, most farmers in Zimbabwe are rotating sugarcane varieties that were released between 1960 and 2004.

These are the Natal-discovered N14 and Zimbabwean-bred ZN9 breeds.

Despite outdated varieties, Zimbabwe’s sugar output is expected to reach 500 000 metric tonnes this year, surpassing last year’s 460 000 tonnes.

– CAJ News

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