Cabinet to OK Sugar Project

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Cabinet is set to pronounce itself on the sugar plantation that is planned for the Caprivi Region before the project can go ahead. The Liyambezi Sugar Estate last year was looking for a partner in planting sugar on thousands of hectares of land. Due to low global sugar prices, the plantation will not only focus on the production of sugar but also go into animal feed, fertilizer and alcohol production from sugar residue. Ministry of Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary, Andrew Ndishishi, told New Era yesterday that after a sugar expert had visited the project site last year to look at whether the water and soil were suitable for sugar production, a proposal was compiled which has been submitted to cabinet for consideration. “We have submitted the findings to Cabinet and we are waiting for them to pronounce themselves on that,” he said. The project has in the meantime secured some 15 000 hectares of land which it will lease for the next 99 years. Castro Samunzala, a board member of the sugar project, said although the project promoters wanted to start as soon as possible, there have been delays concerning, among others, investors in the project. Last year the project said it was looking for a business partner in the planned multi-billion-dollar sugar venture in Caprivi, which is envisaged to create some 7 000 jobs. Samunzala said the sugar committee had plans to plant maize and other crops to raise funds while waiting for investors in the project, but nothing has materialised. There were feasibility studies done of the project twice in 1997 and also between 2001 and 2002, which recommended that the government should go ahead with a sugar plantation at Lake Liyambezi. The project is seen as one of the big ones that aim at turning around the economic situation of the region, which studies say is the poorest in the country. A Brazilian sugar expert who visited the country in July 2006 also advised that there should be a balance between sugar and alcohol, which is produced from molasses, which comes from sugarcane. Ethanol, a by-product of sugarcane, could find a lucrative market with the world moving over into unleaded petrol. It can be used as fuel for automobiles either alone in a special engine or as an additive to gasoline for petroleum engines. It can also be blended with gasoline in varying quantities to reduce the consumption of petroleum fuels, as well as to reduce air pollution. Future uses of ethanol include being used as an extender for car fuel. Other things that can be produced from sugar include electricity, traditional medicine, polish and paper.