Sugar industry invests more than R1 billion in transformation

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The South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) is pleased to announce that, with the disbursement of transformation funding this month, the sugar industry has met its objective of investing more than R1 billion in transformation funding over five years. As the industry has endured waves of crises over the past five years, the funding has been critical in sustaining the livelihoods of more than 21 000 small-scale growers and their farm workers.

In January 2024, the South African Sugar Association distributed nearly R176 million in dedicated transformation funding alone. This brings the total paid out to small-scale and black growers as well as land reform beneficiaries between 2019/2020 and 2023/2024 to more than R1 billion. These payments, to which growers contribute 64%, have been distributed biannually over the five years.

Through these payments, the industry has been able to help the most vulnerable absorb the shocks caused by drought and floods, cheap sugar imports, the Health Promotion Levy (or sugar tax), Covid-19, and the ongoing crisis in parts of the milling industry.

Read more of load shedding’s effect on the sugar industry here.

A masterplan in action

The funding commitment also supported the objectives of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan, the first three-year phase of which concluded in 2023. Since the conclusion of that phase, industry stakeholders have worked together to conceptualise a framework for a second phase of the masterplan. This new phase would help to continue the work of the first phase, protecting vital jobs within the industry and restructuring it for a sustainable, diversified future.

As parliament reopens, it is essential that government supports the efforts of the industry by reaffirming its commitment to prioritise procurement of locally produced sugar, and by halting all plans to increase the sugar tax that has contributed to the hardships faced by the industry.

SA Canegrowers is committed to preserving and expanding opportunities in the industry for young, black and women growers among others. But to achieve this, we have to overcome the challenges the industry faces and work together with all industry stakeholders – especially government – to create a policy environment within which new growers can find a foothold and build sustainable livelihoods.

As we look forward to the imminent state of the nation address (SONA) as well as the budget speech, SA Canegrowers urges president Ramaphosa and minister of finance, Enoch Godongwana, to announce critical measures to help us protect the one million livelihoods the industry supports, including the suspension of the Health Promotion Levy. – Press release, SA Canegrowers

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