Massive imports also underway
Despite 10 new factories that are being constructed and expected to produce each 250 thousand tons of sugar annually at a cost of 3.76 billion birr per plant, the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation is set to import 300,000 quintals of sugar, primarily from India and Brazil, beginning this February at a cost of 555 million birr; including transportation and warehouse rental.. Ethiopia uses the white sugar that comes from sugar cane to consume although it’s looking at using brown sugar which comes from sugar beets.
The sugar is imported at a cost of 1,850 birr per quintal and is expected to be sold at a subsidized price of 1,264.40 birr per quintal to the Merchandise Wholesale and Import Trade Enterprise (MEWIT) and consumers’ cooperative unions.
Currently there are three state owned sugar factories in Ethiopia producing about 300 thousand tons of sugar every year. However, as part of the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) ten new factories are to be constructed. Two of the three existing factories will be expanded and all will be expected to increase production. The existing factories produce Plantation White Sugar. However, the new factories are to produce two other types of white sugar, refined and raw in addition to the Plantation type.
Six new Sugar factories will be built in Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples’ Regional State as part of the Kuraz Sugar Development Project. All are expected to be completed by 2015.
Another sugar endeavor known as the Tana Beles Sugar Development Project will bring in two new factories that will be completed by 2013. Afar will get the new Kessem Sugar Factory and Welkayit Sugar Development Project will be implemented in Tigray region.
Meanwhile, Tendaho sugar factory, in Afar region is the only project reported to be behind schedule according to the Sugar Corporation.
Wonji/Shewa Sugar Factory, which was formed in the 1970’s under the auspices of the Derg’s Sugar Corporation, will be expanded this fiscal year. Some fifty percent of it has already been completed and so far everything is reportedly going as plan, the corporation reported. Wonji/Shewa plans to increase its sugar output from the current 75 thousand tons per year to about 173,946 tons.
Metehara Sugar Factory as well as the Addis Ababa and Asmara Candy Factories date back to Derg times as well. Metehara plans to double production by about 270 thousand tons of sugar from 130 thousand.
Fincha Sugar Factory is under expansion and should be completed during the current fiscal year. When completed, it will increase production to 270 thousand tons of sugar from 110 thousand.
Some 86 percent of the expansion of Finchaa Sugar Factory, being undertaken at a cost of about 500 million birr has been completed, according to project manager Engineer Asehnafi Ayalew. Ashenafi was quoted by news agencies that some 5,500 of the seven thousand hectares has already been covered with sugar cane. The expansion of the factory is scheduled to be completed by the coming February 2012.
Fincha also uses the byproduct of its sugar to make Ethanol which is used as a fuel. It plans to raise production to 20thousand cubic meters.
The corporation is also looking at Brazil’s method of co-generation, which takes the byproducts from sugar production and uses it to generate electricity.
Productivity of the sugar industry
Last year the corporation distributed a little over 4.3 million tons of sugar but the nation’s three existing factories produced 340 thousand quintals less than required. About 2.76 million quintals of sugar were produced locally while 960 thousand tons of sugar was imported.
The Ethiopian Sugar Corporation was established by the council of Ministers directive 192/2003. It was reestablished in late October 2010 after a hiatus since it was first disbanded in the early 1990’s. The cooperation also is looking into brown sugar, taking the lead from Egypt that extracts sugar from sugar beets.