- 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.
- The marginal profitability of sugarcane, import pressures and the implementation of the sugar tax are expected to lead to a steady decrease in the area planted to sugarcane, with farmers opting for other crops like macadamia trees, tea trees, bananas and avocados (ABSA, 2018).
The annual South African Sugar Industry Directory is an invaluable source of information, statistics and for contacts within this sector; find it at www.sasa.org.za. Most of the information on this page is derived from it.
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 featured in the Key Action Programmes. The intention was 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 www.thedti.gov.za.
- Read about the health promotion levy (HPL) (“sugar tax”) at www.sars.gov.za/ClientSegments/Customs-Excise/Excise/Pages/Sugary-Beverages-Levy.aspx.
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.
South African Sugar Association (SASA) Tel: 031 508 7000 www.sasa.org.za
South African Cane Growers’ Association (CANEGROWERS) Tel: 031 508 7200 www.sacanegrowers.co.za
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 http://sa-fda.org.za. Contact it at info [at] sa-fda.org.za or on Twitter at @FDA_ZA.
South African Sugar Technologists Association (SASTA) Tel: 031 508 7543 www.sasta.co.za
South African Sugar Industry Agronomists Association Tel: 031 508 7403 https://sasri.org.za/sasiaa
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 are the Association of SA Sugar Importers (Asasi), the Beverage Association of South Africa (BEVSA) and the Ethanol Producers Association of Southern Africa (EPASA).
Training and research
Additional details to what is listed below are provided in the South African Sugar Industry Directory at www.sasa.org.za.
Gledhow Tel: 032 437 4400
Illovo Sugar Limited Tel: 031 508 4300 www.illovosugar.com
- Eston Mill – 031 781 8300
- Noodsberg Mill – 033 502 9500
- Sezela Mill – 039 975 8000
- Umzimkulu Mill – 039 682 4202
Tongaat Hulett Sugar Limited Tel: 032 439 4316 / 000 www.huletts.co.za
- Technology Group 032 439 4342
- Refinery 031 460 0102
- Voermol Feeds 032 439 5856
- Agricultural operations – 032 438 3500
- Amatikulu Mill – 035 331 9000
- Felixton Mill – 035 791 5000
- Darnall Mill – 032 439 9111
- Maidstone Mill – 032 439 5511
- Komati Mill – 013 723 4444
- Malalane Mill – 013 791 1000
- Pongola Mill – 034 413 8100
UCL Company Limited Tel: 033 501 1600 http://uclweb.co.za
Umfolozi Sugar Mill (Pty) Ltd Tel: 035 550 7700 www.umfolozisugarmill.co.za
Cane Testing Services (CTS) Tel: 031 508 7145
- North: 031 508 7148
- South: 031 508 7142
The Cane Testing Service (CTS) provides a specialist service under contract to individual Mill Group Boards to determine the quality of individual grower cane deliveries to the mill for cane payment purposes. See www.sasa.org.za for details of the branches.
Grocane Fire Insurance Co-op 1998 Limited Tel: 031 508 7161
SASRI extension service
SASRI’s extension service provides the essential link between SASRI researchers and farmers through consultation and feedback (see contact list below).
The South African Cane Growers’ Association provides technical skills training for new and emerging cane growers, accounts and financial management workshops, regional economic advisors, a grower support service officer and access to a special VAT and diesel dispensation for small-scale growers.
The milling companies also provide extensive service in support of the cane-growing operations of small- medium- and large-scale black farmers.
SASRI Mount Edgecombe
- Extension & Biosecurity Manager 031 508 7492 / 083 561 2781 rowan.stranack [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Manager: small scale and land reform growers 031 508 7491 082 654 3148 Thulani.masondo [at] sugar.org.za
Small scale Growers
- Extension Specialist: Small-scale Growers Zululand South S Hlela 082 613 8819 Sifiso.hlela [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Small-scale Growers North Coast 032 328 9395 / 082 654 3536 nathi.hlongwa [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Small-scale Growers Midlands 031 328 9301 / 082 655 0356 william.gillespie [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Small-scale Growers South Coast 039 975 1149 / 082 655 0358 patrick.ngcobo [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Small-scale Growers Zululand North 034 413 1215 / 083 655 5012 norman.mkhabela [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – South Coast
- Extension Specialist: Sezela 039 975 1377 / 082 655 0387 joe.nkala [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Umzimkulu 039 682 1822 / 082 653 3151 brendon.small [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – Midlands
- Extension Specialist: Midlands South 031 781 2001 / 082 654 3546 Paul.botha [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Midlands North 033 503 1818 / 082 654 3549 david.wilkinson [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – North Coast
- Extension Specialist: Maidstone/Darnall 032 947 1410 / 083 320 9099 Shannon.smith [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: North Coast 032 947 1410 / 082 653 3144 adrean.naude [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – Zululand South
- Extension Specialist: Amatikulu and Entumeni 035 337 1593 / 082 653 3147 gary.lagerwall [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – Zululand North
- Extension Specialist: Umfolozi 035 550 0106 / 083 623 2863 alex.searle [at] sugar.org.za
- Extension Specialist: Felixton 035 772 5871 / 082 653 3150 tshifhiwa.radzilani [at] sugar.org.za
Regional Extension – Irrigated North
- Extension Specialist: Pongola 034 413 2120 / 083 655 5011 marius.adendorff [at] sugar.org.za
- Biosecurity Officer 013 790 0356 / 083 335 3846 trumpelmannk [at] tsb.co.za
Websites and publications
Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter.
- The South African Sugar Industry Directory is an invaluable source of information, statistics and for contacts within this sector; find it at www.sasa.org.za. SASA has other publications available which describe in full the diverse aspects of the sugar industry.
- Books, technical guides, newsletters and manuals are available from the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI). Find these on their website, https://sasri.org.za.
- The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline Agricultural Outlook includes a section which looks at sugarcane. Find the latest Baseline at www.bfap.co.za.
- The SADC Secretariat and German Development Corporation‘s Profiling of the Regional Agro-Processing Value Chains in the SADC Region (March 2019) includes a look at sugar.
- Find the latest Sugar Market Value Chain Profile on the Directorate Marketing pages on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development website www.daff.gov.za. Also available are grower notes for sugarcane (look under “Resource centre”).
- Find out about the publication Good Management Practices for the Sugar Cane Industry at www.ifc.org.
- Available from the ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) is the booklet “Agro-processing of Industrial Crops (chicory, coffee, sugar cane, tea)”. Visit www.arc.agric.za or call 012 842 4017.
- Find the Nation in Conversation overview of the sugar industry (March 2017) on YouTube.
- Find the SA Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) presentation to parliament in 2017 at www.thedti.gov.za/parliament/2017/SAFDA.pdf.
- Find research done by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) on sugar, including alternative uses of sugar. Go to www.namc.co.za.
- World Association of Beet and Cane Growers (WABCG) www.wabcg.org
- Find the 2018 SADC Sugar Digest at https://sadcsugardigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sadc_digest_oct_2017.pdf
Sugarcane is one of the crops from which bioplastic is made. Find the 2018 report Bioplastics Market to witness a huge boom in Agriculture industry at www.progressivemarkets.com.
The failure of the 2017 Minister of Finance to gazette tariff changes resulted in a flood of imported sugar which threatens to be a near knockout blow for local producers. Refer to the following articles:
- Reporter. 2018, July 16. “FairPlay demands enquiry into SA sugar tariff debacle”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/174/179476.html
- van Wyk, J. 2018, July 3. “Suikerskok: was dit Gigaba se fout?”. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/suikerskok-was-dit-gigaba-se-fout-20180703
See also pages 59 and 60 of the BFAP Baseline 2018-2027 at www.bfap.co.za.
- Reporter. 2019, February 15. “Parly steps up efforts to buoy sugar industry”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/parly-steps-efforts-buoy-sugar-industry
- Mkentane, L. 2019, February 12. “Sugar cane farmers call for intervention”. The Mercury. Available at www.kwanalu.co.za/sugar-cane-farmers-call-for-intervention
- 702. 2018, December 3. “SA company makes biodegradable sugar cane bottles to replace plastic”. 702. Avalable at www.702.co.za/articles/329366/sa-company-makes-biodegradable-sugar-cane-bottles-to-replace-plastic
- Phillips, L. 2018, February 7. “‘Sin tax’ for sugar will cause job losses – SASA”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/sin-tax-sugar-will-cause-job-losses-sasa
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