Harare, April 2022: A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Sugar Association, explores the positive impact that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to have on the country’s sugar industry by providing access to untapped markets across the continent against a backdrop of rising demand.
Titled “Sugar in Zimbabwe: Focus Report”, the report provides in-depth analysis of the local industry’s history, operations, strategic and social importance, and broader growth story, in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, focusing on key data and infographics.
The study examines the challenges that local producers face, which range from an unpredictable water supply and outdated ways of working to a difficult broader economic landscape.
Subscribers will find details of the improvements that industry players say are needed to help boost productivity and drive the industry forward, with mechanisation, financial incentives and improved transport infrastructure among the top priorities.
The report also maps out the industry’s significant potential on the international stage, exploring the opportunities for increased trade with global markets through bilateral and multilateral agreements.
In addition, the analysis shines a spotlight on the groundbreaking research and development being carried out at the Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station, where key initiatives under way range from creating new seed varieties and pest control strategies to irrigation and water efficiency assessments.
The report includes contributions from key representatives such as José Orive, Executive Director of the International Sugar Organization; Muchadeyi Ashton Masunda, Chairman, Zimbabwe Sugar Association; Stephen Schwarer, Chairman of the Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station; and Audrey Mabveni, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Sugar Association Experiment Station.
In his commentary, Masunda highlights the local sugar industry’s considerable social impact, alongside the need for investment to ensure it realises its growth potential.
“It is one of the country’s largest formal employers, employing around 27,000 workers directly, as well as others through downstream industries. However, significant impediments remain for the industry to unleash its full potential,” he said. “Mechanisation is key, but the cost of repairing and replacing equipment is prohibitive. Sugarcane growers need government support schemes and concessional financing facilities to help them cope, much like those available to tobacco farmers.”
Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that Zimbabwe had taken significant strides towards boosting sugar production capacity, despite the challenges facing the industry, reaffirming its resilience and importance as a contributor to GDP growth.
“Sugarcane was designated a strategic crop in April 2021, highlighting its local socioeconomic value,” she said. “With the AfCFTA expected to boost intra-African trade and strengthen the continent’s competitiveness, Zimbabwe now faces a timely opportunity to sharpen its focus on addressing infrastructure challenges and boosting sugar productivity, with a view to extending its reach in the regional market and beyond.”
The focus report on Zimbabwe’s sugar industry forms part of a series of tailored studies that OBG is currently producing with its partners, including ESG and Future Readiness reports, and other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.
The report is now available to view and download here.