Felixton Cane Growers have a somewhat unique challenge with an ongoing Brix/Pol anomaly at our Felixton Mill. SA Canegrowers have assisted us in negotiations with Tongaat Hulett to recover an annual fi nancial compensation for the diff erential. This negotiated outcome sees our consolidated Felixton Grower Group benefi tting fr om a refund amounting to millions annually. The service provided through the locally based Agri-Business Advisor is crucial and this service as well as the funding provided through the SA Canegrowers admin grant to assist with funding of the local MCC’s plays a crucial supportive role for all our small-scale growers. SA Canegrowers has also assisted smallscale growers in facilitating a tender process with transport companies for the haulage of their cane.The launch of the recent SA Canegrowers’ Benefit Scheme has received a positive response fr om our growers as they see it as an opportunity to improve support for their on-farm staff in a time of need.
In the 2018/19 season, Felixton saw an improvement in cane quality, milling performance and rainfall in the region. However, growers continued to experience serious pressure from industry politics, the falling RV price and decreased consumer demand for sugar which has negatively impacted their businesses. The Felixton area received 696mm of rain in 2018 (between January to December), which was lower when compared with the previous year which was at 1 104mm. However, the levels of water stored in the Goedertrouw Dam
The 2018/19 crop in Felixton improved by 16.4% from the preceding season, with final deliveries totalling 1 414 314 tons. There was an improvement (3.2%) in cane quality with a final RV of 12.08% compared to the 11.81% of the previous season. The mill’s outward cane diversion decreased by 97.3% from the previous season. Closer to the end of the 2018/19 season, growers wrestled with maintaining their cane estimate due to the dwindling RV price; some growers opted to increase their carry-over cane in attempt to seize benefits of an estimated higher RV price in 2019/20.
Felixton Mill had a productive season in 2018/19. The mill opened on 3 May 2018 and crushed 1 793 981 tons (including inward diversion), and this was 7.4% higher than the previous season. The mill crushed 45 days past the initial agreed closing date due to poor milling efficiencies, however, the mill managed to imporive the overall time efficiency (OTE) by 1.7% compared to the prevous season, from 71.15% (2017) to 72.35% (2018). Thed cane to sugar ratio was the second highest among the northen coastal mills and improved by 4% from the previous season.
Cane spillage was an issue in the first quarter of 2018 in Felixton. There were complaints from the public sent through the media concerning cane spillage and this attracted the attention of law enforcement. Cane spillage takes place when a heavy vehicle is “bread loafed” or the cane is loaded higher that the vehicle sides to get a full load, especially with lodged cane. The Road Transport Management System (RTMS) working with SA Canegrowers addressed all media complaints. Moreover, the concerned hauliers were briefed and encouraged to urgently implement corrective measurements. The turmoil associated with industry politics caused segregation and tension among growers, however the Felixton small-scale community have remained united with strong support for SA Canegrowers. Further, the falling RV price has continued to put our growers, notably the small-scale growers, under growing financial pressure. The biggest challenge therefore remains a financial one as growers struggle to shrug off the debt accumulated during the recent drought years.
An improved crop of 1 540 000 tons and an inward diversion of about 360 000 tons are expected in the 2019/20 season.