SA Canegrowers elects first black African vice-chairman
Zululand sugar farmer Dipuo Ntuli has been elected vice-chairman of SA Canegrowers (SACG) – the first black African to hold the position in the organisation’s 91-year history.
Speaking immediately after her election, Ntuli of Umfolozi said she was humbled by her historic appointment and would work flat out in partnership with her colleagues to add value to SACG which looks after the interests of sugar cane growers throughout South Africa.
“For the past few years we as members of the South African sugar industry have been faced with serious political challenges which have tested us because we are not politicians - we are in the business of growing cane. My hope for the coming year is that the industry can return to concentrating on the challenge of growing cane and leave politics to the politicians so that we empower and develop our growers, especially small scale growers.”
A sugar cane grower for the past 15 years, mother-of-six Ntuli has been on the SACG board since 2016, representing the Umfolozi Sugar Mill Area.
She was a councillor in the Hlabisani Municipality from 2006 to 2011 when she became a councillor in the Mtubatuba Municipality going on to the executive committee and assuming office as chairperson of the Community Portfolio.
“My years on the board of Canegrowers have provided me with new knowledge, experience and enthusiasm which I believe will help me contribute positively towards the development of the organisation and help expand the cane growers community,” said Ntuli. “I am confidant my knowledge will contribute towards meeting the challenges the industry faces such as the review of the Sugar Act and the signing of the sugar industry agreement.”
Graeme Stainbank was re-elected chairman of Canegrowers and Rex Talmage joint vice-chairman alongside Ntuli.
Stainbank said building relationships far and wide was a priority for him and the organisation in the coming year. “We have to get to our members and find out exactly what they want and make sure we deliver. The big challenge ahead is our relationship with government and politicians and to ensure our side of the sugar story is heard.”
After high level discussions he had with government recently, Stainbank said he was hoping for an announcement early in August about a possible increase in the tariff on sugar imports which would bring some relief to growers.
Stainbank said one of his goals for the coming year was satisfied growers. “If we have lots of happy growers then I would have done my job - if we have disgruntled growers then I would have failed.
“It really all boils down to the sustainability of the industry. If we can sort out the dollar based reference price for sugar we sort out 90% of our problems. It certainly won’t make the challenge of expropriation without compensation go away, but it will give us capacity to start addressing issues which will help.”