Kabuye Sugar Works has moved into upland sugarcane growing, aimed at boosting sugar output through cutting losses resulting from floods.
The country’s sole sugar maker has for a couple of years appealed to government for more land on which to grow sugarcanes, arguing that their current plantations lie on swamps, which prone to flood during heavy rains. This, the company says, leads to destruction of plantations during heavy rains.
Kabuye says it incurs a loss of between 3000 and 4000 tones of sugar annually leading to supply shortages, which drives sugar prices higher.
“The Sugarcane challenges we have today is as a result of a traditional wrong mind set in Rwanda that sugar has to be grown in marsh land only,” said Jim Kabeho, the Executive Director Madhvan Group, which owns Kabuye Sugar Works.
At a seminar to launch upland sugarcane growing in Kigali last week Kabeho said they are replicating the idea from Uganda where upland growing of sugarcane has been successful.
The factory jointly working with the Ministry of Agriculture identified priority sites which include Bugesera, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, Gicumbi, Rurindo and Rwamagana.
The company is targeting a cultivated land of 3000-3500 hectares in the next five year. This is expected to boost sugar output by between 27,000 and 315,000 tonnes every year.
Currently Kabuye Sugar Works produces 10,000 tonnes of sugar each year, a decline from 15,000 tonnes that were being produced in 2007 and 2008. With national demand for sugar at 50,000 tonnes, the country has had to bridge shortfall in supply through importation.
In a bid to increase sugar production Kabuye Sugar Works intends provide tractors to sugarcane out growers to ensure steady supply of the crop.
Farmers will further receive free appropriate seeds and transport of the harvest to the factory. Agricultural technical services will also be freely offered by the factory.
Lawrent Gashugi, an out grower (cane farmers) from Rurindo district in the Northern Province explained the benefits of upland sugarcane growing.
“I no longer fear floods, my only concern is transportation and price determination where I don’t participate,” Gashugi said.
“I still make some profits of between Rwf500,000 and Rwf600,000 per hectare on each harvest on upland and Rwf380,000 on marsh land.”
Theresphore Mugwiza, a representative from the Ministry of Trade and Industry commended Kabuye Sugar Works and encouraged farmers to seize the abundant market opportunity through land consolidation as a good strategy to effectively benefit from the programme.
“The out growers are blessed with such a huge market. We are doing every thing possible to manage sugar shortages. Studies have been carried out and show there is appropriate soil in Nasho Eastern Province for upland sugar cane growing,” he added.