Mauritius sugar production down on strike and heavy rains in 2014
The Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture has revealed that factors behind this fall in production are heavy rainfall occurring during this period and the labour strike that badly disrupted last year’s harvest.(Image: Indian Ocean Times)
Mauritius has suffered a setback in sugar production in 2014, with the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture estimating a dip by 4% in sugar output for the year.
The chamber reveals that factors behind this fall in production are heavy rainfall occurring during this period and the labour strike that badly disrupted last year’s harvest.
Climate conditions have been a determining factor affecting the sugar harvest for last year as November rainfall exceeded the long-term mean by 21 mm in the East, 24 mm in the South and 17 mm in the Centre. In the North it was comparable to the long-term mean (LTM) but lagged behind in the West by 19 mm.
As for temperature and sunshine duration, mean monthly maximum temperature was above normal at all stations, the difference ranging from 0.5oC at Belle Rive to 1.8oC at Réduit.
Furthermore, sunshine hours during November 2014 were below normal at all stations except at Pamplemousses. Recorded bright sunshine as a percentage of the normal was 114 at Pamplemousses, 91 at Réduit, 96 at Belle Rive and 94 at Union Park. In this context, it may be noted that above normal temperature and solar radiation are conducive to growth of the crop.
The Chamber of Agriculture also reveals that 26 267 ha, representing 76% of miller planters, has been harvested in November 2014, compared to as much as 31 622 ha (92%) in 2013.
As for cane productivity for the island as at end November 2014, it was 83.5 TCH and exceeded the 76.0 TCH recorded in 2013 by 7.5 TCH (10%) and the recorded sugar productivity of 8.52 TSH was higher than at the corresponding period in 2013 (8.15 TSH) by 0.37 tonne (4.5%).
The weather prevailing in November did soften the blow through, leading to a slight increase in cane productivity of 0.4 TCH and improvement in extraction rate from 10.12% to 10.20%.
Thus, sugar productivity has increased by 0.11 TSH during the month of November and it is encouraging to note that sugar productivity is still better than that of last year with nearly 76% of the area harvested.
As an old pillar of the economy, the sugar output for 2014 is estimated to have come in at 400,000 tonnes last year from a previous forecast of 415,000 tonnes.
Mauritius sugar producers also saw profits fall last year after global prices for the sweetener dipped due to a huge overhang of stocks after four straight years of surpluses.
Finally, crop 2015 has benefited up to now from more or less normal conditions. However, the delay in the harvest of the present crop, which is expected to last beyond December 2014 in certain sectors, will definitely upset the tillering and growth phase of those late harvested fields in 2015.