SA Canegrowers' leader donates high value seedcane
KwaZulu-Natal grower and SA Canegrowers’ Chairman Rex Talmage is the latest commercial farmer to donate high-quality seedcane to rural small-scale neighbourhoods in line with the industry’s agreed biosecurity plan.
Talmage, who grows sugarcane within a stone’s throw of the Amatikulu mill in partnership with his brother Earl, said the 12 tons of N12 seedcane donated to small-scale grower, Colin Mthembu was not only true-to-type but the same seed they were using to plant up their own fields.
“The sustainable transition towards a more diversified and sustainable farming model supportive of high quality sugarcane produced according to environmental and biosecurity best practice is an urgent priority for us at SA Canegrowers,” Talmage said.
The plan is aimed specifically at “bridging the seedcane gap” between commercial growers and their small-scale counterparts to create parity of crop quality at an affordable price while at the same time limiting the spread of disease.
A ton of certified seedcane can cost anything upwards of R550-a-ton compared with a lesser price achieved per ton at the mill.
The plan also requires accurate record keeping on the source of all seedcane planted in the plots.
An agreement was reached between the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development in partnership with the South African Sugarcane Research Institute where financial assistance was provided to set up high quality seedcane or “demonstration” plots in rural areas. These plots are now being used for training and the supply of new and disease-free varieties for small-scale growers.
In support of the plan, commercial growers affiliated to SA Canegrowers are making additional certified seedcane available from their on-farm nurseries free of charge in a bid to fast track the process and to make sure the 2023 deadline is met.
Picking up a stick of the seedcane from the stacks awaiting loading, Mthembu pointed to the healthy nodes on the stalk. “This is very good sugarcane seed. These 12 tons will mean I can plant up 1.2ha of seedcane which will really help me to grow my area under cane next year. I will be able to plant up new fields as well as sell to the seed to my neighbours,” he said.
SA Canegrowers Area Manager for the Amatikulu region, Sinenhlanhla Njoko said the programme was important not only from an industry-wide perspective, but for each household it meant increased income from their sugarcane crop.
“That translates into stable rural communities and a sustainable sugar industry,” Njoko said.
From left, SA Canegrowers’ Chairman, Rex Talmage, SA Canegrowers’ Amatikulu Area Manager, Sinenhlanhla Njoko; Small-scale grower and SA Canegrowers’ member, Colin Mthembu and commercial grower, Earl Talmage