SA Canegrowers

SA Canegrowers Hopeful Amid Sugar Industry Masterplan Phase 2 Talks

Press Statement

Andrew Russell – Chairman

SA Canegrowers

25 April 2024

SA Canegrowers is hopeful that the engagement today with Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza will mark a step forward in the creation of a second phase of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan, a social compact between industry and the government. As the industry recovers from years of successive crises, the one million livelihoods it supports depend on the collaboration of government and value chain partners.

Invaluable platform

SA Canegrowers has long championed the Masterplan as an invaluable platform for cooperation to address the existential problems facing the sugar industry. The industry has shown resilience as it faced years of challenges including floods, an onslaught of cheap imports, and the Health Promotion Levy (sugar tax) which was instituted in 2018.What is required now is government support to ensure the future sustainability and profitability of the sector, and to restore demand for locally produced sugar. As part of this effort, it is critical that the government commits to not increasing the sugar tax in 2025, as this would threaten more than 21,000 Small-Scale Growers’ ability to feed their families. A study by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy has already shown that maintaining the sugar tax at the current level will cost the country 6,198 permanent jobs and 9,786 seasonal jobs; the country simply cannot afford an increase in the tax.The second phase of the Masterplan must include further exploration of the options available to diversify the sector. This could include using sugar for fuel, ensuring the long-term viability of sugarcane growers and the rural economies they support in an increasingly green global economy. Previous research indicated that South Africa could produce as much as 433 million litres of Sustainable Aviation Fuels by diverting just 50% of the 19 million tons of sugarcane we produce. We cannot leave this potential untapped as the world clamours for sustainable energy sources.

Sustainable and fruitful

Finally, the Masterplan must also build on the excellent achievements in relation to transformation over the past five years. The industry recently concluded its investment of R1 billion into transformation. This effort must continue in a sustainable and fruitful manner. For its part, SA Canegrowers is committed to ensuring that the sugar industry continues to be a contributor to inclusive rural economies.The meeting with the Ministers will take place in Mount Edgecombe, KwaZulu Natal. It will be followed by an open session to be attended by growers and other stakeholders to enable contributions from our members and others who will be among those most affected by the successes and failures of the Masterplan.SA Canegrowers is confident that, working together, the Masterplan partners can save the local industry and protect the livelihoods it supports. We therefore look forward to a fruitful engagement with the Ministers Patel and Didiza.

Media Enquiries:

Gerhard Mulder

gerhard@resolvecommunications.co.za

083 305 9361

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