More than 600 scientists and technicians in the sugar industry from around the world have gathered this week at the South African Sugar Technologists Association (Sasta) 2023 Congress.
The three-day congress, in its 59th year, kicked off at the Durban ICC on Tuesday.
The premier event promoted significant scientific and technological advancements made in the industry.
Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz), presented during one of the sessions.
Highs and lows
According to Sihlobo, the South African sugar industry has had its fair of challenges and is still struggling with a range of market-related issues.
“But the work of the scientists on seed development, crop protection, yield improvement, etc. is inspiring. One discussion we will need to have at some point is on policy – the energy matter given the pressures on sugar consumption and imports from our neighbouring Swaziland,” he said in a post on LinkedIn.
A sweet success
Sihlobo gave a keynote address, specifically speaking on South Africa’s agricultural condition and policy direction for the coming years, focusing on interventions to stimulate and sustain growth in the agricultural sector. “Sasta was well organised with great attendance, with around 600 scientists and technicians from around the world. I feel proud of the work our members as part of SA Canegrowers Association and South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) are doing in the industry,” he said. Photo: Supplied/Sasta
Sugarcane in focus
The first technical session of the agriculture programme covered extension and agronomy. The session unpacked the economic effects of the increase in carryover cane in some areas of KwaZulu-Natal, along with various aspects of crop production in both the large- and small-scale grower sectors.
On the second day, the first technical session focused on irrigation and water management, featuring three particularly topical presentations for South African delegates on the impact of load shedding on irrigated farms. This was followed by a session on crop nutrition, with a special emphasis on micronutrients. Photo: Supplied/Sasta
Exploring industry solutions
The congress gave industry players an opportunity to explore solutions with top scientists and technicians.
The success of such an event is often attributed to the presentation of significant scientific and technological advancements to key role players in the Industry. Photo: Supplied/Sasta
Another factor contributing to the success of the Sasta congress is the exhibition. It provides the opportunity for meaningful engagement with various service providers in the sugar industry. Pictured here is Richardt Scholtz, agronomist at Netafim South Africa (left), Sumita Ramgareeb, plant breeding and field services resource manager at South African Sugar Association (middle), and Gary Frances, national key account manager at Netafim South Africa. Photo: Supplied/Sasta
On the ground
Apart from attending the association’s annual scientific congresses, Sasta members interact by participating in roadshows, field events, workshops and visits to farms and factories. Pictured here are Senzo Nhlabatsi (left), Sifiso Masango, overseer of the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (middle), and Nicholas Kunene, agriculture trainee manager at Ubombo Sugar Limited (right). Photo: Supplied/Sasta