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Schalk Burger | 31 January 2024

Industry organisation the South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) says that, following the disbursement of transformation funding this month, the sugar industry has met its objective of investing more than R1-billion in transformation funding over five years.

The funding has been critical in sustaining the livelihoods of more than 21 000 small-scale growers and their farm workers, as the industry has endured waves of crises over the past five years, says SA Canegrowers chairperson Andrew Russell.

In January, the South African Sugar Association distributed nearly R176-million in dedicated transformation funding, which brought the total paid out to small-scale and black-owned growers, as well as land reform beneficiaries, between 2019 and 2024 to more than R1-billion.

These payments, to which growers contributed 64%, have been distributed biannually over the five-year period.

“Through these payments, the industry has been able to help the most vulnerable to absorb the shocks caused by drought and floods, cheap sugar imports, the Health Promotion Levy (or sugar tax), Covid-19 and the ongoing crisis in parts of the milling industry,” Russell points out.

Further, the funding commitment also supported the objectives of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan, with the first three-year phase concluded in 2023.

Industry stakeholders have since worked together to conceptualise a framework for a second phase of the Masterplan. This new phase will help to continue the work of the first phase, protecting vital jobs within the industry and restructuring it for a sustainable, diversified future, he says.

It is essential that government supports the efforts of the industry by reaffirming its commitment to prioritise procurement of locally produced sugar, and by halting all plans to increase the sugar tax that has contributed to the hardships faced by the industry, he asserts.

“SA Canegrowers is committed to preserving and expanding opportunities in the industry for young, black and women growers among others. To achieve this, we must overcome the challenges the industry faces and work together with all industry stakeholders, especially government, to create a policy environment within which new growers can find a foothold and build sustainable livelihoods,” says Russell.

SA Canegrowers urges President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to announce critical measures to help it to protect the one-million livelihoods the industry supports, including through the suspension of the Health Promotion Levy.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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