Floods disrupt sugar production

The current heavy rains have paid a heavy toll on the country’s sole sugar company, Kabuye  Sugar Works, with about 60 percent of sugarcane plantations inaccessible.
Bundles of sugarcane at  Kabuye Sugar Factory. The flooding of Nyabarongo wetland has rendered sugar canes inaccessible. The New Times /  E. Munyaneza
Bundles of sugarcane at Kabuye Sugar Factory. The flooding of Nyabarongo wetland has rendered sugar canes inaccessible. The New Times / E. Munyaneza

The current heavy rains have paid a heavy toll on the country’s sole sugar company, Kabuye  Sugar Works, with about 60 percent of sugarcane plantations inaccessible.

According to the factory’s General Manager, NB Gohil, the floods have brought work to a standstill and the crops exposed to diseases due to silt.

“We risk problems in our sugar production next year because 80 percent of the estates have been affected by the floods,” However he could not readily tell the magnitude of the effect.

Gohil explained that the heavy rains which started in mid November will affect next year’s harvest. The affected areas are mainly marshlands along the Nyabarongo River and Akanyaru River. The sugar factory co-owns the plantations without growers.

“Heavy rains are discouraging us from increasing our investment in the sugarcane because we have nothing much to prevent the floods; we are only praying that they subside,” commented one out grower, Anastase Gasangwa.

Gohil added that the factory faced a similar problem in 2010, when more than 1000 hectares were destroyed.  Kabuye Sugar Works has a capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes but only produces 10,000 annually.

In a recent interview with the media, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, revealed plans to avail more land in the Nyabarongo marshlands and the Eastern Province for sugarcane production.

This would increase Kabuye’s output to 60,000 tonnes by 2020, yet there will be a projected annual demand of 16,000 tonnes. “We will cover this rising demand by installing a new plant to supplement Kabuye’s output and achieve 160,000 tonnes.”

emma.munyaneza@newtimes.co.rw

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