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THE South African Cane Growers Association said this week that black growers’ revenue in the past year was 15 percent down compared with previous years.
SA Cane Growers attributed this to the continued imposition of the Health Promotion Levy (the HPL or “sugar tax”).
These figures were presented at the SA Cane Growers 94th annual general meeting this week. The meeting also saw the election of the new chairpersons and board for the upcoming year.
Over the past year, South African cane growers contributed R128 million to the sugar industry’s annual transformation projects, which received R200m overall. This funding provided much needed relief to small-scale and largely black growers.
Most of the R200m was split across a variety of programmes including R138m was distributed through a premium price for sugar cane supplied by black small-scale growers and land reform growers, R20m subsidised transport costs for black small-scale growers, R10m was spent on black youth and women’s programmes, R5m to augment the Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education, R5m on an agricultural training top-up for black growers via Sasa’s Grower Development Account.
Outgoing-chairperson Rex Talmage said that although there was still a long way to go, there were finally positive signs of recovery.
“We have seen a 14 percent growth in sugar sales resulting from reduced sugar imports and the off-take commitments from the social compact partners procuring more locally produced sugar, which is a promising glimmer of what is possible if we all work together to meet the challenges our industry continues to face, like the sugar tax,” said Talmage.
SA Canegrowers reiterated that it was fully committed to making the Sugar Industry Masterplan a success in order to ensure the long-term sustainability and profitability of the sugar industry as a whole.