“Further increases in the sugar tax will sound a death knell for small-scale farmers,” said the South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) in response to calls for further hikes in this tax, which was first instituted in 2018.
“As farmers in the sugarcane industry, we have followed the recent discussions and publications in newspapers calling on government to increase the sugar tax, with very little consideration for what this may mean for our sector and livelihoods.”
While the sugar tax rise would affect the whole industry, including secondary and tertiary industries, small cane growers will be the hardest hit, the organisation believes.
“This tier of growers is already being targeted. Agriculture demonstrated tenacity and so became the final line of defence against the impact of a collapsing economy at a time when jobs were also ravaged by Covid-19. That was until upheaval erupted in July of this year, and the country is still reeling from the fallout.”
During the unrest, sugarcane fields across 53 towns in Kwa-Zulu Natal, including small-scale farms owned by families, were burnt to the ground. This resulted in a domino effect of disruptions to the industry, the loss of an entire season’s crops and inputs (fertiliser and insecticides), loss of harvested goods rejected by the mills, destruction of farming equipment and machinery, and interruptions in employment, including seasonal employment. Millions of rand were lost by growers due to the unrest.
“To make matters worse, we are already operating under tight financial margins due to the drop in demand. [It] could be further worsened by the proposed 20% sugar tax that has been suggested by some groups. It would be a disaster to introduce any increase in the sugar tax, given that unemployment is at a historical high of 34.4%.”
“Supporters of an additional tax have not given sufficient attention to the fact that rural communities have already been greatly impacted and, as such, a further increase would be catastrophic.”
According to a report by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), 16 621 jobs were lost in the first year of implementation of the sugar tax, of which 9 154 were lost in the sugarcane-growing sector.
“In principle, we are in support of programmes and interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, which is part of the reason why the sugar tax was put forward as a health measure. However, we believe that this can be achieved in other, more effective ways without killing livelihoods and impoverishing rural communities in especially KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. For more than a century, the sugar industry has been the buffer between these communities and total socio-economic disintegration.”
SA removed from Britain’s red list
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last night that South Africa has been removed from the UK travel red list, along with 46 other countries.
The news is welcomed as role players in the local tourism and travel industry had grown increasingly frustrated with a protracted travel ban in one of its most important tourist source countries.
Agri SA to host virtual congress
Agri SA’s congress will be hosted on 14 and 15 October 2021, with the theme “Survive and thrive in the future, the agricultural way”.
Guest speakers include ministers Thoko Didiza, Barbara Creecy and Pravin Gordhan. Other experts are Theo Vorster, Valli Moosa, John Sanei and David Venter.
“Agri SA invites you to join us for its congress focusing on building the economy and addressing environmental issues concerning agriculture,” the organisation said.
Agriculturists interested in attending the event online, can register here.
Eskom implements sudden load shedding
According to Eskom, Thursday night’s load shedding in order to replenish emergency reserves, will be repeated tonight (Friday, 8 October 2021 into Saturday morning).
“Emergency reserves have been depleted faster than expected due to further breakdowns of a generating unit each at the Kriel and Tutuka power stations today. Delays in returning generating units at Tutuka, Grootvlei and Kendal have also contributed to the depletion of emergency reserves.”
Friday night’s stage 2 load shedding is expected to last from 21:00 until 05:00 on Saturday morning.
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