TONGAAT Hullet’s Zimbabwean unit Hippo Valley (Hippo) plans to invest towards growing sugar cane production by 10% annually over the next few years as part of efforts meant to increase ethanol production from current levels of 21 million litres per year.
Hippo MD Sydney Mtsambiwa on Monday told businessdigest in Chiredzi the company has resuscitated ethanol and actively sold to the local market in the current year with plans to increase production underway and take advantage of the demand created by government’s directive for increasing fuel blending from 10% ethanol to 15% ethanol.
Green Fuel is the biggest supplier of ethanol used for blending, but has in some instances failed to meet demand.
“We are looking at increasing our production in order of 10% year on year and correspondingly you will see an increase in molasses and therefore an increase in ethanol,” said Mtsambiwa.
He said production is below capacity due to the cane supply and amount of molasses given that the ethanol comes from further beneficiation of molasses.
Current capacity, the Hippo MD said, can produce 40 million litres of ethanol annually.
Mtsambiwa said Hippo had stopped producing ethanol around the 1980s due to viability challenges.
Tongaat’s sugar operations in Zimbabwe consist of Triangle and a 50,3% stake in Hippo Valley Estates, representing a combined installed sugar milling capacity of more than 640 000 tonnes.
As at 31 March 2014, the Zimbabwe operations are supplied by 44 833 hectares of sugarcane land comprising a mix of the company’s own estates and private farmers with a potential to produce in excess of 4 million tonnes of sugarcane.