SA Canegrowers welcomes President Ramaphosa’s recognition of the sugar industry’s efforts to support and empower small-scale growers for success.
The R225 million in transformation funding, raised from grower and miller contributions, is evidence of the industry’s commitment not only to its recovery, but also to its growth and transformation, guaranteeing a future in the industry for generations to come.
R165 million of the funds disbursed is part of a 5-year commitment by the sugar industry to invest R1 billion in the industry’s transformation. The additional R60 million was disbursed as part of a Sugar Industry Value Chain Masterplan commitment to sustain small-scale growers.
Yet this investment alone will not guarantee the achievement of its objective. Government must also play its part and so we welcome the President’s announcement that government will be expanding the provision of input vouchers to small-scale farmers with the aim of reaching up to 250 000 small-scale farmers, (including the 21 000 contributing to the sugarcane value chain), in partnership with the private sector.
However, it is also essential that government announces the implementation of its commitments under the Sugar Industry Value Chain Masterplan including promoting the procurement of locally produced sugar across all departments and state-owned enterprises. While there are other, more complex problems to which the industry needs solutions, this is a simple, attainable action that can assist the industry in the near term.
Government must also remove obstacles to the industry’s success. SA Canegrowers will therefore be looking to Finance Minister Godongwana’s Budget Speech in the hope that he will announce the scrapping of the Health Promotion Levy which has caused thousands of rural job losses within the sugar industry since its implementation in 2018, with no evidence provided to date to show that it has a positive impact on reducing obesity levels in the country.