HARARE,– Regional sugar processor Tongaat Hulett reported an operating profit of R1,27 billion ($95,7 million) in the year to March from an operating loss of R15 million ($1,13 million) recorded last year on improved local market prices and strict import protection measures in the region.
Zimbabwe, in which the company operates, last year banned the importation of sugar among other items to shore up local industries.
The group which is based in South Africa, also has operations in Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia said production declined 3 percent because of the poor rainfall recorded in the region last season.
“Sugar production totaled 1 056 000 tons (2016: 1 023 000 tons), with volumes impacted by low cane yields due to the drought experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and poor growing conditions with low rainfall and restricted irrigation levels in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as a result of low dam levels,” the company said.
The local unit, Hippo Valley Estates, is expected to benefit from the recently commissioned 1,8 billion cubic meter Tokwe Mukosi dam.
Tongaat said production is this year seen exceeding 1,5 million tons as a result of the above average rainfall received this season.
“The dam levels in Zimbabwe and Mozambique have already recovered”.
Higher prices realised from exports, especially into African markets and the EU also spurred profits, the company added.