Media Release by Andrew Russell, SA Canegrowers’ Chairman
September 20, 2023
Ahead of this Heritage Day, SA Canegrowers has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling on him to sign the Home Sweet Home pledge to only buy locally produced sugar. The South African sugar industry, which dates back to the mid 1800s, is currently under siege, facing multiple economic and regulatory threats. This heritage will be lost – along with one million livelihoods – unless we can save the sector.
In his 2021 State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa called on South Africans to buy local, a call that SA Canegrowers has championed and invested in.
Now, the President and his government have the opportunity to do the same.
Home Sweet Home
SA Canegrowers launched the Home Sweet Home campaign to raise awareness about the threats to the local sugar industry and encourage consumers to buy locally produced sugar. The campaign arose out of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan that was signed by Ministers Ebrahim Patel and Thoko Didiza in December 2020. Letters requesting support have also been sent to Ministers Didiza and Patel.
The digital phase of the campaign, launched in June 2023, has reached more than 2 million South Africans and thousands have already signed the pledge.
While SA Canegrowers and some industry stakeholders have fulfilled their obligations under the Masterplan, government action has been slower. There has been no indication, for example, that government fulfilled its commitment to ensure that government departments and State-Owned Enterprises procure locally produced sugar.
The challenges facing the local cane growing industry have caused widespread hardship and uncertainty for small-scale growers and for the large-scale growers who are the biggest employers. It is therefore essential that government remains steadfast in its commitment to help the industry if growers are to survive the hardships brought on by the milling crisis, the Health Promotion Levy, recurring flooding and other impediments to growth.
SA Canegrowers is therefore calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Patel and Minister Didiza to commemorate Heritage Day by signing the Home Sweet Home pledge and ensuring that government lives up to its commitments under the Masterplan. In this way we can begin to revitalise the industry, and to protect the one million livelihoods that depend on the sugar industry.
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