With a firm objective in mind, the South African Canegrowers Association looks forward to a better year following the crippling drought, reports The North Coast Courier.
At their 90th annual general meeting recently, where the board of directors for the 2017-2018 season were elected, the organisation’s chairperson, Tim Murray, reminded growers that while the challenges facing the industry had intensified, they were not that different from those seen almost a century ago.
“The crippling drought continued for most of 2016, resulting in the 2016-2017 season being one of the toughest experienced in the history of the South African sugar industry. The relatively small crop also meant that farmers did not make good returns and this had the risk of putting some farmers out of business.”
According to statistics, during the 2016-season:
- Fourteen sugar mills crushed a crop of 15 074 610 tons of cane.
- The crop was 213 215 tons larger than the 2015-2016 crop of 14 861 395 tons.
- The total salable sugar amounted to 1 539 739 tons of which 1 534 741 tons were sold on the local market, leaving no sugar available for export.
Murray added a reminder that the association was first created to protect the interests of growers and that is a principal that still applies. The organisation represents about 20 000 sugarcane growers in Mpumalanga and KZN.
“In 1927, sugarcane growers in South Africa were addressing challenges of land, production, droughts, pests and floods. This too is as applicable today as it was 90 years ago.
“The objective for the future remains one of ensuring a sustainable South African cane growing sector.”
However, not all was doom and gloom, as last year saw the launch of the SA Canegrowers Benefit Scheme that was put in place to provide basic funeral benefits and death in service pension for permanent, seasonal workers and extended family.
“The underlying principle of the scheme is to acknowledge farm workers as the most vulnerable in our sector and to provide them with a comprehensive basket of affordable, customised, innovative benefits. With time the surpluses will be ploughed back into the scheme to further enhance farm worker benefits.”
– Caxton News Service