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FAMILY BUSINESS

Canegrowers disappointed at Parliament’s dismissive attitude - South Africa

The South African Canegrowers Association notes the press release issued by the Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee, Ms. Joan Fubbs.


Ms. Fubbs’ denialism of the crisis in the sugar industry is cause for serious concern. The imminent collapse of the sugar industry is a clear and present danger to the 350 000 jobs in the sector.


While it is true that the Portfolio Committee has been engaging with the sugar industry, it is not true that the current sugar crisis will be solved with a long term approach. What we need are urgent interventions to fix it.


Unsteady rainfall, plunging world sugar prices, weak protection against cheap imports and a drop in demand are factors that, taken together, threaten the viability of this R14 billion industry.


The South African Canegrowers Association has called on the government to take these immediate steps to help the industry out of the sugar crisis:


• Grant the industry the tariff protection it asked for to level the playing field and shield it from cheap imports from countries that are heavily subsidised.


• Tighten restrictions to prohibit sugar entering South Africa from neighbouring countries that are not subject to any duties.


• Invest in industry-led innovations, such as ethanol production and cane-based packaging to support the industry’s efforts to find alternative markets for sugar. These new innovations will create thousands of new jobs.


• Be more responsive to fluctuations in world sugar prices, protecting the local industry from price shocks and thereby securing the future of the industry.


We would like to point out that this is not a political issue. It is a matter of profound public interest that is having a serious impact on land reform, small-scale and commercial farmers. All of these growers are represented by the South African Canegrowers Association and play a crucial and symbiotic role with millers to form the broader sugar ecosystem.


We have written to Ms. Fubbs to request that we be given an opportunity to engage the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee on the scale of the sugar crisis and what can be done to fix it. This is not the time for denialism and dismissiveness, it is time for concerted and constructive action.


Media enquiries:
Graeme Stainbank
031 508 7200


Thabi Ndhlovu
061 993 6672


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