Table of Contents

The annual South African Sugar Industry Directory is an invaluable source of information, statistics and for contacts within this sector; find it at  Most of the information in this chapter is derived from it.


1. Overview

  • Sugarcane is the second largest South African field crop by gross value, surpassed only by maize.
  • The South African sugar industry makes an important contribution to the national economy, given its agricultural and industrial investments, foreign exchange earnings, its high employment, and its linkages with major suppliers, support industries and customers.
  • The approximately 21 889 registered sugarcane growers annually produce on average 19 million tons of sugarcane from 14 mill supply areas, extending from Northern Pondoland in the Eastern Cape to the Mpumalanga Lowveld. Approximately 20 562 are small-scale growers, of whom 12 994 delivered cane in the 2014/15 season, producing 10,3 % of the total crop.
  • There are approximately 1 327 large-scale growers (inclusive of 323 black emerging farmers) who produce 81,5% of total sugarcane production. Milling companies with their own sugar estates produce 8,2% of the crop.
  • The sugar industry creates around 79 000 direct jobs. Indirect employment is estimated at 350 000 jobs.

Sugar and renewable energy

Globally, sugarcane industries have responded to the need for renewable energy, by diversifying from being producers of sugar to sugar and energy.

The biomass called bagasse, produced during the processing of sugarcane, can be used to generate steam and electricity. Sugar mills in South Africa already do this for their own energy needs. They have the capacity to inject significant amounts of surplus power into the national grid, which would make a significant contribution to green and renewable energy when this does become a priority for government.


2.   National strategy and government contact

  • Sugarcane is an important crop for South Africa as it has both high-growth-potential AND is labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).
  • In the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21, sugar features in the Key Action Programmes. The intention is to “create conditions to enable existing small producers to increase their scale of production, broaden possibilities for new entrants; open access to resources and markets through genuine partnerships that promote skills transfer, management mentorship and co-sharing of infrastructure”. Find the document at


3. Associations involved

South African Sugar Association (SASA) Tel: 031 508 7000

South African Cane Growers’ Association (CANEGROWERS) Tel: 031 508 7200

CANEGROWERS regional managers:

  • Amatikulu 035 337 1135
  • Felixton 035 772 3110
  • Komati 013 723 4179
  • Malalane 013 790 0320
  • Midlands South (Eston) 031 781 2000
  • Noodsberg 033 503 1820
  • North Coast 032 947 0176
  • Pongola 034 413 1215
  • Sezela 039 975 2078
  • Umfolozi 035 550 0315
  • Umzimkulu 039 682 5122

South African Farmers Development Association is an Association representing small-scale and land reform farmers within the sugar industry and beyond. Visit Contact it at info [at] or on Twitter at @FDA_ZA.

South African Sugar Technologists Association (SASTA) Tel: 031 508 7543

South African Sugar Industry Agronomists Association Tel: 031 508 7403

National Bargaining Council for the Sugar Manufacturing and Refining Industry Tel: 031 508 7331/2

Sugar Manufacturing and Refining Employers Association Tel: 031 508 7300

Also of relevance is Association of SA Sugar Importers (Asasi) and the Beverage Association of South Africa (BEVSA).