El Niño weighs on Hippo Valley’s yields

Staff Writer

Hippo Valley Estates (Hippo Valley), a major Zimbabwean sugar producer, reported a drop in sugarcane yields for the year ended March 31, 2024, citing adverse weather conditions linked to the El Niño phenomenon and a reduced harvest of higher-yielding cane.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm’s cane yields declined to 89.20 tonnes per hectare, down from 95.38 tonnes per hectare the previous year attributed to El Niño and a shift in the harvest towards mature cane varieties.

The strong El Niño event that occurred between October 2023 and March 2024 brought drier-than-average conditions to Zimbabwe.

“Cane yields dropped to 89.20 tonnes cane per hectare during the year compared to 95.38 tonnes cane per hectare resulting from reduced volume of higher yielding plant cane harvested in the current year, and adverse weather conditions coming from a strong El Niño event occurring between October 2023 and March 2024,” Hippo Valley said in its financials.

Hippo Valley recorded a 15% decline in cane deliveries from the company’s plantations due to lower cane yields and a reduction in the area harvested arising from a 4-week delay to milling season while cane delivery agreements were being negotiated.

Private farmer cane deliveries contributed 46% of the total cane supply and were 1% below the prior year having experienced a 6% drop in yields after achieving 68.82 tonnes of cane per hectare.

On the outlook, the company said in light of the El Niño weather phenomenon, slowed economic growth is projected across many business sectors that depend on water for irrigation.

“The company’s major dams are holding sufficient water to support optimal irrigation regimes for the coming season,” Hippo Valley said.

“With low water levels at Manjirenji and Siya Dams at 39.8% and 59.3% respectively as of May 6, 2024, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority plans to rationalise water supplies from these dams to mitigate impacts on the crop until such a time the water stocks improve.”

The company through its strategic focus to improve yields is looking forward to harvesting 945.471 tonnes cane and receiving 739.329 tonnes of cane from private farmers in the 2024/25 season, a 4% increase from the current year.

Hippo Valley said it continues to invest in renewable energy sources, reforestation and tree planting programs and sustainable waste management systems and proactive emission monitoring and control systems to reduce its overall environmental footprint.

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