Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Indian firm invests US$200 billion on sugar in Zambia

An Indian company, Shree Renuka, is to invest a total pa ckage of about US$200 on a turn-key sugarcane plantation and factory to be sited in the southern province of Zambia, which is currently dogged by chronic sugar shortages.

Ekan Chingangu, town clerk of Mazabuka district in the southern province of Zambia, disclosed to PANA here Monday on his return from India where a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Indian company, granting it land on which to set up the sugar plantation in senior chief Chingwala's area of Mazabuka.

In return, Shree Renuka Company has granted the Mazabuka council an undertaking that it will create 6,000 new jobs in the rural district and build a sugar factory that will also produce ethanol from sugarcane residues as well as generate power from them.

Chingangu was accompanied to India by chief Mwanachingwala, on whose land the plantation will be set up, as well as Mazabuka mayor, Edmund Cheelo.

Commenting on the project, Mwanachingwala said it was being done with the blessing of people living in his area, adding that land for the project has already been identified and no single village will be displaced by the project.

"We are happy to receive this massive investment since poverty level in my chief dom is at the moment very high. I am also happy because the project will involve farmers in my area to participate in the scheme through an out-grower arrangement," Mwanachingwala said.

He added that in the memorandum of understanding, the investing company has also promised to build a high school and hospital for his people.

"This project is not but for my subjects. They have suffered much poverty for very long since there have been no jobs in this area," he said.

Mazabuka district is home to Zambia Sugar plc., which is the nation's leading sugar manufacturing company, which not only accounts for much of the sugar market,

but a large slice of the sugar now exported to the Great Lakes countries such as Burundi and Rwanda.

At the moment, Zambia is grappling with big sugar shortage that has left prices spinning out of control and households searching for unfamiliar substitutes such as honey and sugar syrup.

Shree Renuka Company is a large producer of ethanol in India, accounting for a 20 per cent market share; it is also a large producer and seller of sugar, both in India and abroad.

It also generates reasonable amounts of electricity from its sugar manufacturing activities.