GM: We have about 5,500 tonnes for which we are eagerly awaiting buyers Kagera Sugar Company Limited Agricultural Services Manager Chris Davis (R) speaks to National Social Security Fund Board of Directors at the firm`s premises in Kagera Region on Tuesday. Kagera Sugar Limited has said it has enough sugar in stock which, combined with that lying at its Mtibwa-based sister company godowns, reinforce the perception that current shortages were artificial. The Kagera sugar General Manager Ashwin Rana made the remarks in Bukoba to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) delegation visiting the company. The team, comprising NSSF Board Chairman Abubakar Salum Rajab, Director General Ramadhani Dau and Board members, toured the complex on Tuesday. He said he was profoundly saddened by suggestions that the recent nationwide rise in the price of sugar was prompted by dwindling production levels at sugar factories in the country. He said Kagera Sugar and its sister company, Mtibwa in Morogoro Region, had between them enough stock to meet the countrys needs as well as demand from our other traditional customers. We have two godowns and both have enough stock (of sugar). As I speak, we have about 5,500 tonnes for which we are eagerly awaiting buyers. There is absolutely no problem on our side of the fence, he noted. He said the situation was much similar at Mtibwa Sugar, adding: Going by the way we are moving (with production), it would be overly pessimistic talking of the possibility of a genuine shortage before May and even then, not necessarily. Ranas remarks come at a time when Tanzania is facing what is largely perceived as an artificial shortage of sugar that has triggered a sudden hike in the price of the item. The situation has made the government start considering easing the shortage with imported sugar alongside forcing retail prices down to a maximum of 1,700/- a kilo by slashing a range of levies on the commodity. Our company which has been in operation since it was privatised in 2001, has undergone extensive infrastructural expansion and rehabilitation and has benefited from the installation of ultra-modern equipment. Since last year, our hourly production capacity has shot up to 120 tonnes of sugar, explained the Kagera Sugar GM. The massive scale on which modern commercial agriculture is taking place at Kagera Sugar Limited, a huge agro-industrial complex in north-western Tanzania, has impressed and inspired the NSSF delegation. Rajab, a former permanent secretary who doubles as Land Use Committee Chairman, later publicly admitted having been so profoundly impressed that he promised to do the most he could to encourage other projects in the country to emulate or even eclipse Kagera Sugar all for the good of our nation. Kagera Sugar has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to the government-backed national agricultural initiative known as Kilimo Kwanza by putting state-of-the-art technology and modern agricultural techniques, he explained at a media briefing. He also congratulated the Kagera Sugar management for investing heavily in the training and development of its employees. The NSSF delegation toured the 10,000 hectares chunk of land planted with sugar cane, in the process witnessing a huge fleet of modern agricultural machinery clearing land at a rapid pace to create space for more plantations. The Guardian reliably learnt that at least 1,500 hectares of newly established farms under the crop are added to the estate every year. According to Kagera Sugar Agricultural Services Manager Chris Davis, the latest technology is employed to make the most economical use of the land, facilitating efficient irrigation and drainage for maximum production. This has been achieved through high definition, infra-red Lidar aerial surveying, followed by GPS and Laser technology used to prepare and level the land and install drainage and irrigation canals, he said, adding that the company boasts the largest centre-pivot installation in sub-Saharan Africa, covering 4,000 hectares of sugar cane. The company has already embarked on Phase 2 of the irrigation infrastructure by installing a further 42 pivots during this season to cover an additional 3,000 hectares of land at a cost of 25 billion/-. The NSSF delegation noted that Kagera Sugars strategic plans recognise that the use of irrigation is a crucial necessity for the success of any large-scale agricultural project, with Dr Dau saying that would ensure that the most efficient use is made of our land and water resources and optimum, predictable yields are achieved. He also noted that NSSF and Kagera Sugar had stood as partners in business for many years, that both parties were extremely proud of their close working links and the achievements made so far, and that the Fund was committed to extending further support to the company. Rana revealed that work on Phase 2 was expected to run up to June 2012, upon which their hourly production capacity would rise to 200 tonnes, although our target for 2013 is 100,000 tonnes. In remarks on behalf of the delegation, NSSF Board Chairman Rajab said: We are hugely impressed and inspired by the splendid work being done at Kagera Sugar Limited. There is great need for farmers throughout Tanzania as well as other investors to come here and learn how to using irrigation to make the dream of large-scale modern agriculture come true. What we have witnessed today is Kilimo Kwanza par excellence. No wonder NSSF has extended to Kagera Sugar Limited a loan to the tune of a hefty 12 billion/-. You deserve the support, he added.