SA Canegrowers has displayed its commitment for the benefit of all growers. The industry this last season was shaken with the entry of the break-away South Afr ican Farmers Development Association and the concurrent turmoil that resulted. SA Canegrowers leadership remained calm and focused amid some diffi cult situations and tough negotiations. The organisation continues supporting growers in its submissions on among others, the Dollar Based Reference Price, the Health Promotions Levy and land expropriation without compensation.
There was a smooth start to the UCL Milling season until the rain came down in March resulting in no cane stops. Total no cane stops increased from 99 hours in 2017 to 177 hours in 2018. The final crush was 811 667 tons. This is only the fourth time in UCL’s history that over 800 000 tons was crushed. It is also the first time that this was achieved in two consecutive years. This achievement can be attributed to the excellent relationship that has been established between miller and grower representatives. Rainfall from January 2018 to December 2018, was 851.9 mm which is 94.3% of the LTM at 903mm.
The biggest challenges that growers experienced was dealing with a lower cane price as well as the uncertainty around the changes in the industry. Another challenge was the logistics around diverting cane to Maidstone. The challenges in this regard were by and large resolved during the season. This has also helped in preparing diversion growers for the new season. Pest and disease teams continue working hard at managing the increasing eldana threat. Of concern is that young cane is being threatened by eldana. Growers in the area have embarked on a precautionary spraying program with the focus on a more integrated approach which could include the use of drones. These initiatives are proving successful in managing the eldana numbers. The SUSFARMS® 2018 collaboration continues to be beneficial for growers. As at 31 December 2018, 107 land use plans were completed for UCL growers. The target is to ensure that all UCL growers have land use plans by the end of 2019. There were only 17 UCL growers who did not submit progress trackers. A total of 88 farm specific biodiversity posters were compiled for growers in the Midlands, bringing the total to date to 174.
Projects and strategies introduced by SA Canegrowers local representatives included providing feedback on:
- SUSFARMS®2018 operational and collaboration meetings
- Womoba activities and innovations
- Congress of Growers
- Updated the MGB on changes within the industry over the transitional period.
- Presentations on Industrial Affairs at Grower Days and at the AGM
- Arranging presentations by the SA Canegrowers Chairman to growers locally
- Regional updates on UCL Mill area tabled at the Congress of Growers.
- Provided assistance and inputs to local grower leadership.
- Assisted many growers with economic services such as budgets, feasibility studies, transport cost calculations, cash flow forecasts, farm sales, lease value calculations, new leases, farm sales and tender calculations.
- Met with growers’ attorneys, accountants and bank managers to resolve issues or to provide guidance.
- Operational Health and Safety manual for growers designed by the Midlands team.
- Arranged a drone demonstration at a local farm.
- Actively marketed the SA Canegrowers Benefit Scheme to UCL growers.
The estimate for the new season is 970 000 tons with a harvest area of 11 479 ha. The expected RV is 12.7%. Growers are concerned about many factors such as the RV price, local market sales, the political climate in an election year as well as climate change. As a result of the 2023 seedcane initiative, our recently retired Pest and Diseases (P&D) officer was appointed to oversee all issues relating to seedcane including targets, costs and managing the nurseries.