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July 29, 2008

Mozambique sugar production in 2008 to rise 20% over 2007

Mozambique's sugar production will rise to 295 000 t in 2008, a 21 percent increase from 243 000 in 2007, due to favourable weather and widespread investment, a senior agriculture official said on July 29.

About 165 000 t of output is earmarked for domestic consumption and the remainder for export, said Roberto Albino, director of the government's Agriculture Promotion Centre (CEPAGRI).

"This is a good harvest for us as we aim to produce 500 000 t the next four years", Albino said.

In 1972, Mozambique was the world's fourth largest sugar exporter after Mauritius, South Africa and Egypt, but 16 years of a devastating civil war wrecked the entire infrastructure, drastically cutting production.

Officials say the country's sugar sector is in the middle of a revival, and more than U$500-million has been invested in the industry, much of this by South African firms.

"We are having perfect weather and additional investments and our plans are to double production by 2012, and we are confident that this year's projections would be reached because we do not have any weather related problems," Albino said. "We don't have drought and the four mills are operating at full throttle."

The four operational sugar plantations and mills are at Xinavane and Maragra in Maputo province, and at Marromeu and Mafambisse in the central province of Sofala.

Two other mills, Luabo in central Zambezia province and Buzi in Sofala are awaiting results of negotiations over funds for rehabilitation.

"Once funding is secured Buzi will start producing sugar again but mostly for ethanol production and there will be a major turnaround in the fortunes of the sugar industry, which had stagnated for years following acts of sabotage during the civil war", Albino said.

Reuters

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