Sweet deal for sugar sector

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Joe Machingura
Cape Town - South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has said stakeholders have agreed to support the local sugar sector by buying locally.
The country’s sugar sector has been suffocated by oversupply that has resulted in a drop in prices.

In an online briefing on the state of the sector, Minister Patel said, “The agreement that was reached between all the players was that local users, food companies as well as the retailers, would commit to buying local sugar.

“In return, the local industry agreed to ensure that prices remain stable in the period where this commitment is made. The industry also works closely with a transformation model to ensure that small-scale black farmers are able to get into a more commercially rewarding part of the industry.

“The sugar industry has had challenges for a number of years, and these challenges have been expressed in the form of increasing levels of imported of sugar. There have been enormous challenges, particularly in KwaZulu Natal, but not only in that province, where the sugar farmers are finding the margins getting thinner and the ability to sustain business has been weakened.”

He said the Trade and Industry Ministry was finalising a masterplan for the sugar sector to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability.

The Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Ministry says annual sugar production in South Africa has declined from 2,75 million tonnes to 2,1 million tonnes per annum over the last two decades.

The number of sugarcane farmers has also declined by 60 percent during this period, and sugar industry-related jobs are estimated to have reduced by 45 percent.

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