Melkamu Tekle 06-20-17
Have you ever imagined sugar needs an axe than a spoon for consumption? But this had happened in earlier days of sugar production. Had you lived that time you would have first used a “sugar axe” first and thereafter a spoon to stir your cup of tea or coffee.
Thanks to technological innovations of our days, sugar is now-a-days produced in the form of grain or powder. But before engulfing the globe, this sweetener is said to be originated from India. And, during the aforementioned old days sugar was produced in the form of bar than grains like today.
Sugar is an ordinary sweetener today and found in almost every body`s house. However, it was a luxury in earlier times. It was available only in the houses of the royal families or the rich. As it was expensive it was called “the white gold”. There were even times during which sugar was deposited in a saving account.
During the Napoleonic wars sugar was once more at scarce in Europe. Emperor Napoleon blocked some routes of trade. As this blockade continues sugar scarcity increased in the continent. It is during this time that European countries extracted sugar from sugar beet. Gradually sugar production started from other sources including maize.
As technology improves through time price of sugar has been showing decreasement from what it had been. Accordingly, the need for sugar increased. Number of sugar factories and varieties of production qualities have flourished. But, as demand of people due to population growth and increment of the number of other factories which use the product as an input increased it is given that shortage occurs at times.
When we come to the case of Ethiopia, the sugar industry is more than 60 years old. When the industry began sugar was given for free for promotional purposes and thereby introduce the then public with the product. Gradually compatriots have habituated to sugar. Renowned vocalists like Minilik Wessinachew singing about the sweetness of sugar, is worth mentioning here as a proof of the then society¢s growing love for the product.
However, the number of factories (Wonji Shoa, Metahara and Fincha) stayed there where they had been contrary to increasing number of industries which use sugar as an input as well as number of people in need of sugar. With this reality in mind it was a must that Ethiopia with its economy ever growing, should set up additional sugar factories.
Cognizant of this fact the Government of Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia has been building ten new sugar factories in lowland areas of the country. It also has carried out expansion works on the existing sugar factories of Wonji Shoa and Fincha. As a result of these four new sugar factories (Tendaho, Arjo Diddessa, Kessem and Omo-Kuraz 2) have entered into production during the last three years. This has increased the number of sugar factories into seven.
Six other new sugar factories which are expected to be completed by 2020 including those which are made operational are altogether expected to produce 28 million quintals of sugar by the end of the second GTP i.e. in 2020. This in addition to satisfying the country`s needs, is expected to generate foreign currency.
One of the sugar factories that doubled the numbers of the sugar factories in Ethiopia is Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two. It is one of the four sugar factories which are under construction at Omo-Kuraz sugar Development Project.
When FDRE Prime Minister H.E Ato Haile-Mariam Dessalegn visited this factory which is 900km away from Addis Ababa in December 2016, he had disclosed his hope in seeing the Factory producing sugar in two months time and promised to pay a visit to it once more. When he returned with the Sudanese President Omar Hassen Al Bashir two months later in March, 2017 he found his expectations being practical and he eye witnessed the Factory¢s sugar production.
Of course the factory has not started production in its full capacity and is currently on trial production. And, it is working well as a beginner.
Setting different machineries is part and parcel of job in establishing a sugar factory for it needs harmonized works starting from planting sugar cane on very large hectares of land to constructing long kilometers stretched irrigation infrastructures of different levels, houses of residential and non-residential type to thousands of employees and their families, and the like. From this fact one can guess that there could be more ups and downs for a sugar factory to become fully operational.
Passing through all these stages, the beginning of production of sugar on Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two spreads rays of hope to the nation that has planned to produce 28 million quintals of sugar at the end of the second GTP or in 2020. It is a great herald to the future of the sector in the nation.
Omo-Kuraz Sugar factory the construction of which began in July, 2014 by the Chinese company- COMPLANT is now around 94% complete. Entering into regular production soon, it starts crushing 6 thousand 500 tons of sugar cane daily. Later on it operates with full crushing design capacity i.e. 12 thousand tons of sugar cane daily. Hence, it produces 2.5 million quintals of sugar a year. 28 million liters of ethanol is expected to be produced yearly when it will have an ethanol producing plant. When fully operational it as well generates 60 megawatts of electricity and out of these it uses only 20 megawatts for itself and sends the remaining 40 to the national grid.
Generally speaking Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two has become a great ray of hope to all sugar factories under construction in Ethiopia namely: Omo_ Kuraz one, three and five; Tana Beles 1and 2 as well as Welkayit Sugar factories.