ESA assists smallholders achieve yield target

Sugar cane fields

By EFT Reporter

The challenging climatic conditions failed to water down ESA’s target of ensuring that small-scale sugarcane growers achieve at least 89 per cent of the sugarcane tonnage and sucrose per hectare yields attained by their large-scale counterparts.

Through the expertise of the Extension and Technical Services departments based in Simunye and Big Bend, ESA managed to support small-scale growers to achieve yields of 96.52t/ha of sugarcane and 13.23t/ha of sucrose, an increase from 2021/22 yields of 92.50t/ha and 12.76t/ha, respectively. According to ESA’s Integrated Annual Report for 2022/23, it was critical to ensure that small-scale sugarcane growers did not fall below the industry production average.
The report states that the industry experienced climatic challenges during the season as the country experienced heavy rains that resulted in flooding and delayed harvesting, whilst strong winds resulted in the lodging of the sugarcane.

“Despite these obstacles, Extension and Technical Services delivered on the bulk of its strategic goals,” it stated. Through ESA’s technical support, small-scale growers were equipped with the latest farming, pest, and disease control practices, best fertiliser application and effective weeding techniques, which positively impacted their performance.
Growers also received governance support, with a focus on record keeping and operating their farms as businesses rather than subsistence farming. “Extension and Technical Services ensure that sugarcane farmers adhere to up-to-date sugarcane growing practices to improve yields and sustainability for all our growers. Emphasis is placed on small-scale growers who do not have the same facilities, expertise, or resources as their large counterparts,” stated the report.

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