Sebenzile Ndovela harvests sugar cane near Shongweni. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).
Sebenzile Ndovela harvests sugar cane near Shongweni. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA).

Recent riots result in huge blow for KZN canegrowers

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Aug 19, 2021

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DURBAN – The South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) says it is concerned about the impact of last month’s unrest on the sugar industry.

The association says it has written to the government requesting immediate financial relief.

The relief requested is for growers, especially small scale growers.

The association said at the time of the riots, SA Canegrowers reported potential damage to local canegrowers as R300 million if mills could not crush the more than 500 000 tons of cane that was burnt in arson attacks.

It further revealed that to date, mills in KZN had rejected 135 222 tons of damaged cane which amounted to more than R84.5 million.

“Almost a third of the cane rejected thus far, more than 38 000 tons, belongs to small-scale growers who are most at risk of not recovering from revenue losses of this magnitude,” said the association in a statement, adding that the majority of small-scale growers have no insurance.

Furthermore, since industry transformation benefits are directly linked to the tonnage of cane delivered, small-scale growers whose cane is rejected stand to lose these benefits as well, it continued.

“To reduce the impact on the growers and communities that rely on the industry for their livelihoods, urgent intervention is required from government including immediate financial relief, which will allow growers to stay afloat, maintain operations and retain workers as the sector works to rebuild itself,” said the association.

The association said it would be seeking further opportunities to act as a facilitator between growers and the government.

THE MERCURY

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