Appropriateness of Sugarcane Out-grower Support Programs: Towards Improving the Yields in Lowveld of Zimbabwe
Background: Sugar demand has fallen precipitously in recent years due to a variety of factors. The impact of the Land Redistribution Program (LRP) on agriculture, price controls, inflationary economic conditions, and aggressive international foreign policies have resulted in years of economic upheaval affecting sugarcane production. The infrastructure, which had advanced to become one of the most sophisticated irrigation systems in the world, is in danger of collapsing. Approximately 872 out-grower farmers, primarily beneficiaries of the Fast Track Land Reform and Redistribution Program, have acquired large tracts of land in the hope of establishing a sugar industry, but the sector’s players face numerous challenges. Objectives: To find solutions to sugar production problems by investigating and evaluating the appropriateness of out-grower support for this purpose. Methods: Out-growers, Land Reform program beneficiaries, and targeted sugar producers were found to be the best source of information on how to revitalize sugar production in Zimbabwe. Probability The out-growers were chosen using a random sampling technique. A list of all the outgrowers was created, and every eighth name was chosen using the Kth term until a sample of 100 was reached. Data was collected from participants using a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire contained five-point Likert scale close-ended questions, which were then tested for internal validity and reliability using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient analysis. For relative statistical comparisons between estimates, GraphPad InStat Software (version 5, GraphPad Software, San Diego, California, USA) was used, with P values of 0.05 considered statistically significant. The population age groups of out-grower farmers were mixed, with the majority of them falling between 46 and 55 years old and having 10 to 19 years of experience in the sugarcane farming business. The majority of out-growers were educated to the Ordinary (O) level. Out-growers performing at the ordinary level and above were found to be adhering to standard sugarcane procedures. Despite the fact that the farmers lacked sufficient business management skills, a relatively high proportion of respondents followed standard sugarcane growing procedures. There was a significant difference in output between farmers who had formal sugarcane growing training and those who did not.
Conclusion: The overall business environment for out-grower farmers was hostile, with short loan repayment periods, lower yields per hectare, and low profit margins. Sugarcane out-growers were unwilling to form syndicates to purchase inputs or repair infrastructure. Farmers Instead of limiting out-growers to inputs supplied by the miller, they should be allowed to identify a supplier of inputs and have the financier or miller pay the supplier. When properly managed, the proposal has the potential to reduce debt burdens by allowing growers to actively manage costs. Recommendation: Out-growers should be provided with funding and training to enable them to use resources effectively and generate incomes to support agricultural activities without relying on input support from commercial plantation owners. Out-growers should be encouraged to form partnerships so that they can benefit from lower production costs.
Author (s) Details
Professor Dr. Mavondo Greanious Alfred
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Faculty of Commerce, Graduate School of Business, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Office of the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Chikuse Francis Farai
Pathcare Namibia, 155 Nelson Mandela, Eros Windhoek, Namibia.
Mkwanazi Blessing Nkazimulo
Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Department of Nursing and Midwifery Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
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