Forex deal boon for cane growers 

Source: Forex deal boon for cane growers | The Herald 16 NOV, 2018

Forex deal boon for cane growers

George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Indigenous commercial sugar cane farmers in the Lowveld have been thrown a lifeline after they sealed a deal with Zimbabwe’s sole sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe, to receive payment for cane exports in foreign currency.

The majority of slightly over 1 000 new cane farmers were contemplating quitting due to rising inputs costs and other expenses.

The farmers were being paid using Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) yet a sizeable chunk of their sugar was exported into the region and beyond.

Previous attempts by hard-pressed cane farmers to receive a fair share of foreign currency from sugar exports were unsuccessful.

Representatives of cane farmers and Tongaat sealed a deal yesterday where farmers will receive payment for their sugar sold on the local market at $748 per tonne, up from $622 backdated to the start of the milling season.

They would also be paid in foreign currency for sugar exported beginning October 1, with the first forex tranche due for payment in January next year.

Commercial Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association of Zimbabwe chair Mr Admore Hwarare hailed the new deal for cane farmers as epoch-making. Mr Hwarare paid tribute to President Mnangagwa and his administration for coming to the rescue of hard-pressed farmers through the introduction and pursuit of business-friendly policies.

“It is a milestone development in the sugar industry on the part of indigenous cane farmers because they will now be paid in forex with exports from October 1 this year due for payment in January next year, while sugar exported thereafter will accrue monthly forex payments to farmers until the close of the season around March/April next year,” he said.

“I want to thank the Government of President Mnangagwa for ensuring that land remained in the hands of indigenous people to enable them to grow sugar cane and also creating a conducive business climate that is now seeing farmers being duly paid in foreign currency for the first time ever.” Mr Hwarare paid tribute to his team of advisors and other associations for taking part in the painstaking and protracted negotiations for cane farmers to be paid in hard currency for sugar exports.

For many years, cane farmers were complaining over failure to recognise their contribution in producing sugar for export to countries such as Namibia, Botswana and Kenya in Africa and far afield as the US and the EU,