Lusaka, Friday, May 3, 2019: Eight countries in the COMESA region have maintained their grip in sugar production with most of the raw produce being exported to the European Union, United States of America and China.
The top producer of Sugar in the region is the Kingdom of Eswatini having produced over 650, 000 metric tonnes (MT) followed by Egypt at 595, 000 MT then Zambia with 450, 000 MT.
Ethiopia produced 450, 000 MT, Zimbabwe 391, 000 MT, Kenya is at 376, 000 MT while Mauritius and Malawi produced over 355, 000 and 239, 000 MT respectively.
Importers of the raw sugar are Israel, Russia and countries in the Southern African Development Community such as Tanzania.
Recently, COMESA through the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) participated in the 9th Africa Sugar Conference held in Nairobi Kenya from 9 to 11 April 2019 where Seed Development Expert at ACTESA Dr John Mukuka made a keynote speech on global trends in sustainable agriculture with special focus on sugar.
During the conference, it was revealed that Africa accounts for 6% of the global total sugar production with COMESA Member States accounting for 52% percent at 5,288,456 metric tonnes of the total African sugar production of 10,078,61 MT.
“The COMESA bloc is a net exporter, with close to 45 percent of the total African exports. The sugar net-exporting COMESA Member States are Malawi, Mauritius, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” Dr Mukuka said.
The meeting was informed that African consumption has grown more than 70% over the past 15 years nearly double the annual growth of the rest of the world. Despite this growth, the African per capita consumption figure of 17 kg remains well below that of the global average of 23 kg. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the greatest potential for sugar consumption growth of any global region.
In his presentation, Dr Mukuka recommended measures that COMESA region needs to put in place to increase the levels of sugar production. These include implementing models such as the out-grower schemes with flexible contracts which can be beneficial to small scale farmers, implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as outlined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with supply of key agricultural inputs (seeds and fertilizers) at affordable prices in a reliable manner.
Other measures are to introduce enhanced national and regional policies; acquire new technology, conduct continuous research and development with a view of improving sugar cane quality and quantity; promoting inclusive growth by integrating women and youth in agricultural development and consolidating programmes to fight climate change and promote climate smart agriculture.