Hippo Valley Estates, a unit of South Africa’s Tongaat Hulett says it is aiming to increase sugarcane production by 10 percent every year and to bump up ethanol output from the current 21 million litres correspondingly.
Managing director Sydney Mtsambiwa said that the company had revived ethanol production following years of suspension due to weakening prices.
But last year, government introduced mandatory blending in a bid to contain the country’s ballooning fuel bill and early this year increased the blending threshold to E15 from E10.
“Around (Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980) we were actually selling ethanol for blending but then we stopped because of the changes in the trading environment,” Mtsambiwa said.
“Now we have resuscitated it. We have been awarded a licence to produce and this year we have actively sold to the local market and we intend to increase our production as time goes on.”
Hippo produced 239 338 tonnes of sugar in the full-year to March 2014.
“At the moment, our capacity is about 40 million litres and currently we are producing somewhere in the order of 21 million litres and the limiting point really is from the cane that we process through our mill and the molasses we produce. So as we increase production of sugarcane we then get more molasses and therefore we are then able to produce ethanol,” he said.
Mtsambiwa said the group is also seeking to increase its sugar cane output by increasing land under tillage under the Successful Rural Sugar Cane Farming Community (SusCo) project launched in 2011.
“We are looking at increasing our sugar cane production in the order of 10 percent year-on-year and correspondingly we will see an increase in molasses and therefore an increase in ethanol.”- The Source