With regard to sugar cane, the Nkomazi area yields more sucrose per hectare than the rest of South Africa and most other sugar production countries worldwide. Together with Swaziland and Zimbabwe, the area is recognised as one of the lowest cost sucrose producers in the world.
The agricultural division of Tsb Sugar currently produces around 24% of the total sugar cane delivered to the mill. The company's estates deliver approximately 780 000 tons of sugar cane to the mill. The total area under cane is in the region of 44 000 hectares of which the company estates make up approximately 7 800 hectares. The largest supplier group includes private commercial farmers, that occupy over 27 000 hectares, supply approximately 2.5 million tons of cane or nearly three times the production of Tsb Sugar estates whilst emerging farmers, occupying 9 500 hectares, currently produce approximately 750 000 tons of sugar cane per year. Why sugarcane?
While more than 80 crops can be cultivated successfully in this area, the most popular crop remains sugar cane, which accounts for 73% of the irrigated surface area of the Nkomazi region. An important factor is the generally lower risk exposure of sugar cane compared to other crops. This is probably because sugar cane has fewer diseases and is reasonably drought resistant. Faster positive cash flows and smaller fluctuations in market prices occur, there is relatively easy entry, and sugar cane requires moderate expertise and management inputs. Irrigation
Water management and effective irrigation are critical for the success of all irrigated agriculture in the Nkomazi region. Tsb Sugar's Cane Division is a pioneer in the field of irrigation technology. The company employs a variety of irrigation systems on its sugar cane farms ranging from overhead dragline sprinklers, large centre pivot systems and drip irrigation systems that are suited to the specific irrigation profile of each area. Agriculture
Tsb Sugar's sugar cane estates are geographically divided into two areas namely, a West Division and an East Division. The West Area consists of five farms totalling 2 500 hectares, while the East Area consists of ten farms totalling 5 300 hectares. Water
The region receives 6% of South Africa's surface runoff water. Through the foresight of Government and its development agencies, the stability of the flow of water through the area has been improved by three large dams, i.e. Kwena Dam on the Crocodile River, the Lake Matsamo (Driekoppies Dam) on the Lomati River and the Maguga Dam on the Komati River in Swaziland.
Together, the dams have a capacity to hold some 1 020 million cubic meters of water. Despite this, more than 43 percent of run-off water that passes through the area still flows through to Mozambique.
All the rivers and streams entering and draining in the region discharge at Komatipoort as the Nkomati River into Mozambique. At that point the mean annual runoff (MAR) in its natural state used to be about 2 645 million cubic meters per year. Water use in the catchment upstream of the boundaries of the region has already reduced the mean inflow into the region to 1 708 million cubic meters per year. It is estimated that the recoverable quantity of ground water is about 11 million cubic meters.