Marromeu sugar factory and sugar cane estates in northern Mozambique (Source: www.pgbi.co.za)
A consortium from Mauritius has teamed up with Mozambique’s sugar company ‘Companhia de Sena’ to invest $300 million in a defunct sugar mill to resume sugar production from 2015 onwards.
The official announcement, made on September 21, declared that the state-of-the-art plant will be located in Mozambique’s Luabo, in Chinde district, on the north bank of the Zambezi river at the site of a former sugar plant.
It has been around 3 decades since the sugar mill became in-operational, as it was destroyed during the civil war by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels in 1986.
The initial phase of the plan will cover a 15,000 hectare-plantation of sugarcane, for which a soil analysis is currently under way.
Luabo, on the north bank of the Zambezi river, and Marromeu, on the south bank of the river, were two sugar mills and plantations once owned by the Sena Sugar Estates that were nationalized in 1979. However, while they were both privatised in favour of the Sena Company at the end of the war, sugar production only resumed at Marromeu.
Alain Escat, director, the Sena Company, was quoted by the Maputo daily Noticias as saying that the investment of $300 million would cover production and milling of sugar cane, the installation of electricity, water supply, irrigation, drainage, and the opening of roads. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 jobs will be created in the initial phase of the project.
And, the announcement could not have come at a better time for the company. Production at the flagship plant of Marromeu has been severely impacted by drought since 2012. While the installed capacity at Marromeu is 100,000 tonnes of sugar, in 2012 only 75,000 tonnes were produced and this year only 50,000 tonnes are expected to be added.
According to Escat, the 6,000-workers strong Marromeu unit is meeting the challenge of increasing productivity by leveraging new technologies for sugar cane cultivation.
Counting the Mopeia project which was announced in March, 2012, Luabo will be the sixth functioning sugar mill in Mozambique. The others are at Maragra and Xinavane in Maputo province, and at Mafambisse and Marromeu in Sofala, respectively.
Companhia de Sena (the Sena Company)
Companhia de Sena was earlier Sena Sugar Estates Ltd – a British-owned company that was granted a large land subconcession from the Zambezia Company. It had widely diversified operations comprising sugar estates at Luabo and Marromeu in the Zambezi River delta, a copra plantation near Chinde, a forestry concession, and a cattle ranch near Luabo.
In the mid-1960s it was the largest firm in Mozambique, with more than 10,000 employees but its operations were hit in the mid-1980s during the civil war when the sugar mill at Luabo was completely destroyed by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels.
The company was centred in Sena and built sugar refineries nearby on the lower Zambezi River. Sugarcane is still processed there, although the company was nationalized in 1978 after Mozambique’s independence, and its operation was turned over to Cuban experts. A rail spur connects the sugar refineries to the Beira Railway.
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica