Namibia will take advantage of sugar plantations

KATIMA MULILO – Namibia is on an aggressive campaign to establish a sugar plantation at the Kalimbeza project in the Zambezi region to decrease the importation of sugar products from abroad.

Namibia does not produce sugar. Therefore, its sugar demand is met by imports mainly from South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia and Brazil, followed by the rest of the world.

The Deputy Director of Public Relations at the Ministry of Agriculture, Chrispin Matongela, revealed that the amount imported by Namibia is an annual average.
77,000 tonnes of sugar, valued at N$1,558,000,000.

During independence celebrations in Zambezi in March, President Nangolo Mbumba reported that the government had provided N$8 million to revive the Kalimbeza rice project and approved the establishment of a sugar plantation by Kalimbeza. as well as a sugar processing plant. in Katima Mulilo.

In a recent interview with AgriToday, Matongela explained in depth what prompted the idea of ​​establishing a sugar plantation in Kalimbeza.

He highlighted the importance of local production and the added value that this project could generate.

“During the Covid-19 outbreak, most countries have had to rely on what they produce and/or store within their borders. There was a temporary shortage of food suppliers in most countries due to restrictions placed on goods movements and food supply chains. This experience has taught Namibia to move towards food self-sufficiency,” Matongela said.

Furthermore, a huge import bill for any country negatively affects the balance of payments (BoP), depriving the country of much-needed employment capital to finance development programs and efforts at job creation and diversification of agricultural production potential, including strategic crops such as sugar. cane.

He said unlocking and diversifying agricultural production potential, including strategic crops such as sugarcane, is a key step to effect import substitution, improve balance of payments, job creation, value chain development and development of agribusiness within its borders.

“Namibia’s untapped potential for sugar production on irrigated arable land presents an opportunity to increase local production in Kalimbeza, situated near the perennial Zambezi River, which will serve as a source of irrigation water.

“The agro-processing of locally produced sugar will have a significant impact by reducing the importation of intermediate and finished products and encouraging the production of animal feed, as well as other industries that use by-products of sugar processing. It is also important to note that sugar is an important production input in various food agroindustries such as confectionery, beverages and cereal-based products, among others,” he added.

Sugar is produced by planting sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed into raw sugar and refined into sugar, while producing many other important by-products.

When asked how much is budgeted for setting up this plant, Matongela said the government plans to develop a 1,500 hectare land for sugar production at the Kalimbeza irrigation project and a 100,000 ton capacity sugar processing facility. . He announced that the development of land and the acquisition of machinery and equipment is estimated at N$240.3 million.

Land development includes border fencing, land clearing, bulk water infrastructure and center pivot installation, while machinery and equipment includes processing plants, tractors, cultivators, seeders and harvesters.

Asked when the nation expects real work such as feasibility studies to be carried out, Matongela said the sugar plantation and processing facilities project in the Zambezi region was recently endorsed by Cabinet and that the study Feasibility will begin in the 2024/25 financial year.

“The feasibility study will evaluate the viability of the project and recommend the hectares of land necessary for the required production capacity,” he indicated.

Employment will be created on a variable basis for skilled and unskilled workers during the development and operation phases of the project.

However, he assured that the project will employ qualified Namibians (depending on the feasibility study) and, as usual, will give higher priority to the employment of local youth in the Zambezi region during the development phase.

After the feasibility study, the project will move to design and documentation, where the details related to most activities and requirements will be determined with certainty.

Likewise, the seedlings will be acquired according to the specifications established through the public bidding process, depending on the availability, quality and market price of the seedlings.

“The seedlings could come from the Zambezi region or neighboring countries, or from any other part of the world. All these details will be addressed in the feasibility study,” he noted.

When asked whether the sugar cane will be sold locally or in foreign markets, Matongela stressed that the priority is to meet local demand for sugar before Namibia can export the surplus to earn income abroad.

“The sugarcane will be processed and packaged at the processing facility and distributed locally. If there is a surplus, the country will consider exporting to other countries and improving its trade balance for food imports,” he said.

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