SUGAR INDUSTRY COULD LOSE OVER E1BN REVENUE DUE TO DROUGHT
EZULWINI – The sugar cane industry has announced that it might lose just over E1 billion in revenue if rainfall remains a scarcity up to March.
Heavyweights in the industry include the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC) and Ubombo Sugar, all in the Lubombo region.
Their Managing Directors (MDs), Nick Jackson and Oswald Magwenzi, respectively, presented their case during a State of Water Affairs Meeting hosted by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) at the Happy Valley Resort yesterday.
Jackson put forward that if the dry conditions persisted and water provision through irrigation was cut off, it would see RSSC making colossal losses of up to E700 million per year.
He said the impact would be felt up to 2018. He said the drought started affecting RSSC cane plantations in 2014 as rainfall that was recorded that year was the lowest in 35 years.
This trend continued in 2015 and the organisation’s response was to implement a self-imposed water usage restriction by 50 per cent.
He said the moderate level of rainfall in the past two years mirrored that which was recorded in 1980.
Jackson spoke about some of the strategies of managing the drought situation, such as priority ranking for irrigation, whereby water is focused on nursery fields, planting cane, first irrigation to germinate crops after harvesting and so on.
He said RSSC had two main estates which are Simunye (Ngomane and Mlawula) fed from the Mnjoli Dam, and Mhlume and IYSIS which are fed from Maguga Dam.
These dams have been greatly affected by the drought. The past two have been exceptionally dry years and, therefore, eroded the Mnjoli Dam to five per cent and exhausted the current allocation in Maguga.