During this time of crisis within our industry we need to think clearly and act intelligently. I sincerely believe that we have reached a “watershed” and that it cannot simply be “business as usual”. We must take this opportunity to restructure our Association and our industry with clear objectives in mind. The process should also involve an intelligent “dismantling and putting back together” of all the various industrial structures including the South Afr ican Sugar Association.
Sugarcane farmers in the Malelane region greeted the new season with apprehension and some uncertainty as to what the future might hold. While all indications pointed to a cessation in drought conditions, dam levels remained on the lower end of the scale. A major replant effort contributed to the overall higher yields. The quality of cane remained in line with the principals of “farming for RV” and growers maximised every opportunity through ripener application to the correct dry-off levels in order to gain every percentage yield available to them.
With the change in the Sugar Act and Sugar Industry Agreement we had to make sure who we served and who our members were. Most growers in the region have remained with SA Canegrowers as their preferred association due to the transparency, values and the high- level business ethics of the organisation.
The longstanding dispute with RCL was settled with a new formula agreed based on the ruling of the Sugar Industry Appeals Tribunal. As part of the settlement, 1 million in compensation was paid to Malalane Canegrowers Association and ringfenced for the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).
The dispute over the diversion cost raised another issue where growers in the Nkomazi traditionally did not deliver to their closest mill. With the absence of a Cane Delivery Agreement (only relying on Clause 106 of the Sugar Industry Agreement of 2000) for the interim, certain growers were re-allocated in accordance with mill balance as well as distance. The saving in transport costs to some growers was as much as R16 million per year, with other growers having to pick up a cost of R1 million. SA Canegrowers assisted by making sure growers who incurred additional costs will be compensated over the next 5 years after which the compensation will be re-negotiated.
The negotiations have picked up traction and growers rights are being looked after by SA Canegrowers and the dedicated regional as well as overarching team.
The introduction of the SA Canegrowers’ Customer Relationship Management system made communication to our growers more direct, personal and instant. Messages are also communicated in the language preferred by individual members.
SA Canegrowers actively negotiated with RCL to extend the mill crush from 20 to 22 December 2018 affording growers an opportunity to bring in more than 10 000 tons cane to the value of around R5.5 million in turnover.
The mill is under constant pressure to cope with the increasing cane crop. RCL indicated that an expansion of the mill is not on the agenda for the foreseeable future. The result is that cane throughput is slower and actual cane crush capacity constrained by Brix loading during the season. Coupled with aging infrastructure, this mill can only do so much and not perform miracles. Credit must be given to the mill staff as they try to maintain performance as best as they can to keep the operations running as smoothly as possible. The overall time efficiency: 87.24%