DURBAN - THE SOUTH African Canegrowers Association on Friday welcomed comments by President Cyril Ramaphosa in support of buying local sugar, saying such a commitment by the entire population would safeguard the one million livelihoods that depend on the industry.
In his state of the nation address on Thursday night, Ramaphosa noted that last year had seen the signing of a sugar master plan with a commitment from large users of the commodity to procure at least 80 percent of it from local growers.
Through the implementation of the plan, Ramaphosa said, there had been a rise in local production and a decline in imported sugar, creating stability for an industry which employs some 85,000 workers.
Support for black small-scale farmers was being stepped up, with a large beverage producer committing to expand its procurement sharply, the president added.
On Friday, SA Canegrowers, which launched its buy local campaign Home Sweet Home in December, noted that the industry’s 22,949 growers, of which 21,581 are small-scale growers, directly employed more than 65,000 workers and also created 270,000 indirect jobs across the country, supporting one million livelihoods.
“Our Home Sweet Home campaign has been well received by South African consumers. Our preliminary findings show that sales of local sugar have increased by 12 percent year on year,” association chairman Rex Talmage said in a statement.
“We are hopeful that the president’s call will embed these early signs of shifted behaviour by committed South Africans.”
To sustain these positive changes and increase jobs, it was also important for the government’s commitments under the sugar masterplan to be put into action, Talmage added.
Under the plan, the government has undertaken to promote the use of local sugar by all its departments and state-owned entities. Retailers and wholesalers’ commitment to procuring 80 percent of their sugar locally will rise to 95 percent in the third year of the plan.
“Taken together, these commitments have the potential to bring to fruition a key objective of the masterplan: restoring the local market,” said Talmage.
“With action on these commitments, together we can restore an initial 150,000 tons of sugar demand to the local sugar industry in the first two years, with the goal of increasing this to 300,000 tons in year three, as set out in the plan.”
– African News Agency (ANA)