SA Canegrowers’ announcement underscores a noteworthy accomplishment – successfully meeting the goal of investing over R1 billion in transformation funding within the sugar industry over a five years.
In a statement, the organisation said the funding has played a crucial role in sustaining the livelihoods of over 21 000 small-scale growers and their farmworkers during a challenging period marked by various crises.
Investing in people
“The distribution of nearly R176 million in dedicated transformation funding in January 2024 alone demonstrates a continued commitment to supporting small-scale and black growers, as well as land reform beneficiaries.
“The funds have been instrumental in helping vulnerable members of the industry absorb the shocks caused by droughts, floods, cheap sugar imports, the health promotion levy, the impact of Covid-19, and challenges in the milling industry,” the statement reads.
SA Canegrowers emphasised that the payments, with growers contributing 64%, have been distributed biannually over five years.
“This financial commitment aligns with the objectives of the sugarcane value chain master plan, with the first three-year phase concluding in 2023. The industry stakeholders are now working on conceptualising a framework for the second phase to continue the efforts of the initial phase, aiming to protect jobs, restructure for sustainability, and plan for a diversified future.
“As the industry looks towards the future, there’s a call for government support to reinforce the commitment to prioritizing the procurement of locally produced sugar. Additionally, there’s a plea to halt plans to increase the ‘sugar tax,’ which has contributed to the industry’s hardships.”
Government must do its part
According to SA Canegrowers, it reaffirms its commitment to preserving and expanding opportunities for young, black, and women growers, among others.
“However, the industry acknowledges the need to overcome challenges and urges collaboration with all stakeholders, particularly the government, to create a policy environment that fosters new growers and builds sustainable livelihoods.
“In anticipation of the State of the Nation Address and the budget speech, SA Canegrowers urges President Ramaphosa and minister of finance, Enoch Godongwana, to announce critical measures to protect the one million livelihoods supported by the industry. This includes advocating for the suspension of the health promotion levy to alleviate some of the industry’s burdens,” the statement said.
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