The Sezela Cane Growers’ Association (SCGA) received valuable information and feedback on all major matters relevant to growers such as “Cane Politics and Industry Structural Changes”, and the cane price. The participation by SA Canegrowers in assisting with an active Area Manager and further, a GSO servicing our small-scale growers was a crucial strategic decision to maintain the relevance of the SCGA at Sezela. Furthermore, the generous donation of R100 000 by SA Canegrowers to the “Infr astructure Uplift ment Programme” for small-scale growers was a huge catalyst in the SCGA being able to more than match this figure and to roll out a meaningful programme which will hopefully be expanded this coming year.
Sezela recorded a below average cane crop during 2018. Final delivery of 1 307 738 tons cane was 225 836 tons less than 2017 recording a yield of 62.41 tons per hectare. This crop was also 131 311 tons below the five-year average. The Sezela mill recorded the fifth highest RV% in industry at 12.57%. Growers’ variance between the first estimate and final delivery was 152 262 tons or -10.43%. The large variance can be attributed to the low rainfall recorded. Cane quality was greatly improved compared to 2017. The 16.37% fibre achieved during 2018 was 0.65% below the five-year average of 17.02%. Sucrose recorded at 13.83% was the fourth highest compared with usually being in the bottom third in the industry.
Unfortunately, rainfall between January 2018 and November 2018 only reached long term mean (LTM) on two occasions; in February and August, causing a dramatic reduction in the 2018 crop. The poor rainfall between June and November 2018 resulted in loss of
growth for the 2019/20 crop. While the December 2018 and January 2019 rainfall has been good, the rainfall during the next three to four months will have to achieve LTM for a decent 2019/20 crop to become a reality. It is currently anticipated that the first estimate submitted to the South African Sugar Association (SASA) will be in region of 1 250 000 tons, down from 2018 by 57 738 tons.
Fifteen of the first 25 weeks of the 2018 season recorded out of spec Pol Factor. This trend then continued through to August. CTS performed really well to establish an understanding of the problem however, no definitive conclusions were reached. A second comprehensive report submitted by CTS to Sezela MGB concluded:
- Mill yard to be managed better to ensure that cane yard delays are minimised by clearing the yard midweek and building up new stock towards the end of the week as opposed to clearing the yard only on day 7
- The quantity of sand to be kept to a minimum to limit the impact this may have on the weight of cane and hence the pol factor
- It is also recommended to review the effect of running the diffusers at a temperature that is higher than 80 - 85 °C, based on the recommendations by the SMRI following the extraction audit carried out in 2010
The Sezela mill performed well during 2018. Overall Time Efficiency was 86.14% compared with 82.61% previous year, LTA was at 2.09% down from 4.01% the previous year, no cane stops was at 349 hours down from 510 previous year. This performance is excellent, the LTA
was the best in the industry for 2018.
Considerable advice was offered to Sezela growers regarding macadamia production.
Due to the low rainfall, during 2018 sales from the transplant nursery have been slow. Daily operations are running smoothly. The transplant nursery will be the corner stone of the 2023 Seedcane regulation proposals. The low RV price is proving to be a major challenge for growers. The cane supply at Sezela has come under severe threat with some 150 000 tons of cane already migrated to a northern mill with a possibility of further substantial tonnage to follow. This will increase inward diversion from Eston, Noodsberg and Umzimkulu to the Sezela mill.
Turn-around time reduced to 75 minutes compared with 85 minutes during 2017 and 105 minutes during 2016. The Sezela Mill Group Board sub-committee including the Area Manager continue to monitor this issue. The overload facility at Sezela continues to provide an important service to growers and the road cleaning team continues to provide community service by dealing with cane spillage on major routes to the mill. The small-scale grower Infrastructure Upliftment Programme received R129 000 while Sosukana Primary School situated in KwaNdelu area received R32 000 to build 3 new toilets for the scholars.