SA Canegrowers provided our growers with support and kept us well informed on all local and industry developments. With the negative impact of imports on our cane price, the association also provided sound input to the DTI on the review of the DBRP. Communication around the calculation of the RV price has been well received, despite the regular bad news. With the industry facing difficult fi nancial times, SA Canegrowers continued to keep a close watch on the industry costs.
Noodsberg growers experienced a better 2018/2019 season than the previous one. Rainfall from January 2018 to December 2018, was 853.8 mm which is 94.5% of the last twelve months at 903.4 mm.
Own grower crush increased by 190 597 tons to 1 405 781 tons from the previous season and yields increased from 80.7 t/ha to 90.7 t/ha. However, cane quality was down with the RV% dropping from 12.84% to 12.38%. Small-scale growers continued to perform well producing a record breaking 50 558 tons of cane with an estimate of 53 000 tons for the approaching season.
The Noodsberg Mill crushed within a LOMS of 39.4 weeks. The highest crush was 48 000 tons in week 16, with an average weekly crush of 35 684 tons. While slightly up from the previous season, the overall time efficiency (OTE) remains low at 81.76%. The Pol factor has also slipped out of bounds at 98.84% for the season.
The biggest challenges that growers experienced during the year under review was dealing with a lower cane price as well as the uncertainty around changes in the industry. Pest and disease teams in Noodsberg continued working hard at managing the increasing eldana threat.
In keeping with the SA Canegrowers strategic objectives for the year under review, opportunities were created to increase communication through feedback sessions with growers. This also included a presentation by the SA Canegrowers Chairman to local growers on the changes in the industry. The regional team were instrumental in establishing a new Mill Cane Committee which was followed by a training workshop for the committee on industrial affairs. Information sessions were also held on transformation initiatives. A tour of the Noodsberg mill for the Local Grower Council and the Mill Cane Committee was a great success. As a team we actively marketed the landmark SA Canegrowers Benefit Scheme to Noodsberg growers resulting in a high uptake of the scheme in the area. As part of the SA Canegrowers youth development program, an intern was allocated to a grower in the Table Mountain area.
The estimate for the new season is 1 205 258 tons. Growers have been conservative with their estimates due to the lack of rainfall. The milling season commenced on 6 March 2019 and is expected to close on 27 November 2019. There will be a focus on developing the skills of grower leadership this season, with an emphasis on understanding the more technical mill processes. Illovo Sugar South Africa’s new incentive scheme started with the new season. This has been welcomed by the local growers who are facing economic challenges given the low cane price and rising input costs.