Indian sugar producers target Comesa region

(HornTrade) – ZIMBABWEAN participants at the Indian Sugar Expo to be held in Kenya in July are set to gain valuable information and technical know-how on value addition to the sugar cane raw material, the president of the Sugar Technologists’ Association of India has said.Sugar Technologists’ Association of India president Dr Rao said that one of the main objectives of the Expo was the promotion of technological development in sugar, power and alcohol.

“The Sugar Technologists Association of India has played a key role in the development and growth of the sugar industry in the last 85 years of its existence focusing mainly on innovations and operational efficiencies in sugar manufacturing, co-generation of power from bagasse and hydrous and anhydrous ethanol production.

This is a main objective of this Expo. “The Expo will provide an opportunity for Zimbabwean players in the sugar industry as they would get a chance to view and learn about the latest technological developments in the field of sugar, power and alcohol at this exhibition,” said Dr Rao.

There have been consistent calls from within for Zimbabwean producers to move away from merely being producers of raw materials to prioritise value addition, which is more beneficial for the country especially in terms of the export sector.

Hippo Valley Estates, one of the country’s largest sugar producers recently said that output between April 2009 and March 2010 had fallen from 298 000 tonnes in comparison to the previous season. Zimbabwe is one of several Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries that the Indian sugar industry is targeting.

Dr Rao said that Kenya would host the event because countries in the COMESA region were a main target for the Indian sugar industry.

“The main target region will be the Common Market or Eastern and Southern Africa comprising 19 countries that include: Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“COMESA with its 19 member states, a population of nearly 400 million and annual imports valued at US$32 billion and exports at US$82 billion, forms a major market place for both internal and external trading.

“Today Indian sugar technologists, consultants, professionals and sugar machinery manufacturers have large presence in most of the Afro-Asian countries,” he said.The sugar industry plays a vital role in the economic growth and development of the COMESA region, which produces a net 6,209 million tonnes annually.

Egypt, Swaziland, Mauritius, Sudan and Kenya are the five top sugar producers in the region.

Zimbabwe has however, lagged behind in sugar production, with the country hardly meeting national requirements in the pre-dollarisation era. Last year, under the preferential markets system, Zimbabwe exported a mere 146 000 tonnes of raw sugar to the European Union and the United States.

Indian is the second largest producer in the world behind Brazil. The products, technologies, processes and services rendered by the Indian sugar companies are considered to be among the most cost-effective and efficient in the world.

Business reporter

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