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The sugar industry in Africa is made up of a dynamic group of movers and shakers. From sugar cane producers to farmer organisations, the industry has recently been making a lot of noise about its expansion and empowerment projects. Read more about three different developments in the sugar industry in South Africa and greater Africa below.

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Proudly SA joins Home Sweet Home campaign 

The South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) announced a new partnership with Proudly South African (Proudly SA) to encourage consumers to buy local. This partnership promises to give new impetus to the SA Canegrowers’ Home Sweet Home campaign to promote the purchase of locally produced sugar. 

Over the past decade, the sugar industry has faced critical challenges, including drought, and increasing production costs. One of the greatest threats has been the result of weak trade protection against increasing cheap sugar imports from deep-sea countries such as Brazil, and from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). These cheap imports cost the local industry more than R2,2 billion in 2019 alone.

Proudly SA has an impressive track record of executing creative campaigns to promote local procurement in both the public and private sectors, as well as in raising consumer awareness on the economic impact of choosing locally made products. SA Canegrowers is therefore confident that Proudly SA will bring expertise and its trademark passion to the Home Sweet Home campaign.

The partnership with Proudly SA can only propel the sugar industry forward even faster. This hope is shared by Proudly SA’s CEO, Eustace Mashimbye: “The Home Sweet Home campaign resonates with the mandate of Proudly SA, which is to encourage consumers across all sectors of society to choose locally made products.” – Press release, South Africa Canegrowers

Sweet success with Tongaat Hulett’s empowerment projects

Tongaat Hulett’s transformation initiative for black sugar cane producers, Uzinzo Sugar Farming, has yielded success for a second harvest season. The operations directors said the 18 months since the launch of the agricultural business had provided a steep learning curve in every aspect of the business. The business can now proudly say it is debt-free and tax compliant with a stable cash balance.

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Celebrating sweet success are Uzinzo operations directors, Nonhlanhla Gumede-Shabalala, Khumbulani Mthethwa and Khetha Ncalane.

Uzinzo produced 150 994 tons during the 2020/21 season, compared with 148 651 tons during 2019/20. While no dividend was declared in 2019/20, significant agricultural equipment was purchased for cash to enable the business to operate at an optimal level.

Uzinzo invested R3,5 million in equipment and machinery, including tractors, vehicles and 9 ton haulage trailers to replace the 4 ton trailers, which wasted operational time because of their lower haulage capacity.

Three dynamic producers remain at the helm of Uzinzo Sugar Farming, viz. Nonhlanhla Gumede-Shabalala, Khumbulani Mthethwa and Khetha Ncalane. They hold 65% shares while employees have 15% shareholding through an employee trust that has been created. 

Nkonzo Mhlongo, Tongaat Hulett’s corporate affairs executive, said Uzinzo has enabled Tongaat Hulett to respond to some of the sugar master plan key focus areas, including promoting transformation, employment protection and participation in the broader stabilisation and restructuring of the sugar industry. – Press release, Tongaat Hulett

Illovo announces big expansion project in Tanzania

The Kilombero Sugar Company, in which Illovo Sugar Africa holds 75% of the shareholding and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania 25%, announced the approval of a US$238,5 million expansion project. In line with the country’s policy to achieve self-sufficiency by 2025, this new development will increase Kilombero’s sugar production by 144 000 tons; from current levels of approximately 127 000 tons of sugar per annum, to 271 000 tons. 

RSG Landbou

A driving force behind the manufacturing expansion will be the almost threefold increase in cane supply from Kilombero’s small-scale growers, from the current 600 000 tons to 1 700 000 tons. 

More importantly, the proposed new sugar factory has been sized in such a way that all the available cane will be crushed by the end of December each year. This will minimise disruptions and losses often caused by the onset of the rain season.

The expansion project will also involve the construction of additional sugar storage and packaging facilities to reduce costs and increase the company’s branded pre-packaged capability. Local benefits will triple the revenues paid to Kilombero growers.

The number of small-scale producers supplying cane to the expanded company sugar factories will increase from 7 500 to between 14 000 and 16 000 growers. There will be an increase in direct employment by over 2 000 jobs, both at the company and through the expanded grower cane supply. The project construction phase is expected to last 25 months and completion is expected in July 2023. – Press release, Illovo Sugar Africa