The Komati leadership is grateful to SA Canegrowers for their involvement in making sure that our initiatives and planning translate into reality. For example, the Bosch project, tackling local environmental issues such as water pollution and the effects of coal mining and the CDA and Eskom negotiations and cane allocation and diversion. We would like to see the Komati growers taking note of all the advice and updates from SA Canegrowers and taking those seriously. Thank you to the regional team for your eff orts and your positive thoughts, making sure that you always have the growers’ interest at heart. Komati SA Canegrowers must, especially at this time where the RV price has dropped drastically, please come up with farming alternatives for the future.
The start to the season witnessed one on the largest crops in history for the Komati region. A strong replant programme and changes to irrigation applications especially for the small-scale growers resulted in a higher crop. The rainfall was lower compared to 2017, and water management through periods of water restrictions became a juggling act, especially when considering that most of the farms are diversified into other crops. The season had its fair share of challenges which included getting the majority of the cane harvested.
With the change in the Sugar Act and the Sugar Industry Agreement at the start of the season was dedicated to signing up members and re-enforcing the existing structures in the Komati region. Most growers remained with SA Canegrowers as their preferred association due to the transparency, values and business ethics of the organisation. The small-scale growers formed a new mill cane committee named the Komati Small-scale Grower Association which now forms a part of the Komati Canegrowers Association
A longstanding dispute with RCL Foods was settled with a new formula being agreed on based on the ruling of the Sugar Industry Appeals Tribunal. As part of the settlement, compensation totalling R150 000 was paid to the Komati Canegrowers Association and ringfenced for NIRS. With the re-allocation, the likelihood of diversions in the future from Komati to Malalane may become more regular.
The negotiations have gained traction and growers rights are being looked after by SA Canegrowers and the dedicated regional as well as an overarching team.
The introduction of the SA Canegrowers CRM system made communication to our growers much more direct, personal and instant.
SA Canegrowers actively negotiated with RCL Foods to extend the mill crush from 22 to 23 December 2018 affording grower’s the additional opportunity to bring in more than 9 000 tons cane to the value of around R4.5 million in turnover.
The NEF has indicated that there will be a cotton gin constructed in 2020, opening new opportunities for diversification into a cash crop stream. A cotton trial has been planted and the results will be available in 2019. We have also noticed more and more growers are diversifying their farming operations by planting macadamias. Only time will tell how the crop responds to local conditions. SA Canegrowers held a workshop which provided valuable information on farmer tax practices and how those in farming can practically ensure that their business functions optimally when it comes to tax and tax by-laws. The growers have asked for more information sessions such as this one.
The mill is under constant pressure to cope with the increasing cane quality and crop growth. Cane throughput is slower and actual cane crush capacity is constrained by Brix loading during the season. Diversions to Malalane totalled 197 096 tons. Total overall time efficiency was at 84.95%.