SOUTH AFRICA- South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) have urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to support the ‘buy local’ Home Sweet Home campaign and honour a pledge he made to support the local sugar industry during his 2021 State of the Nation Address.
SA Canegrowers was established in 1927 to address cane grower issues which include lobbying for an appropriate legislative environment, negotiating the best price for their cane, conducting research and analysis, and educating farmers and the public on cane farming and sugar industry dynamics.
In a letter addressed to President Ramaphosa, Andrew Russell, SA Canegrowers’ Chairman called on him to sign the Home Sweet Home pledge ahead of the Heritage Day which was held on September 24.
The Home Sweet Home campaign was borne out of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan that was signed by Ministers Ebrahim Patel and Thoko Didiza in December 2020.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the threats to the local sugar industry and encourage consumers to buy locally produced sugar.
With the digital phase of the campaign being launched in June 2023, it has so far reached more than 2 million South Africans and thousands have already signed the pledge.
Andrew expressed concern that President Ramaphosa has yet to implement his pledge requiring all South Africans to buy local sugar.
Without President Ramaphosa’s support, implementation of the obligations made in the Masterplan has been slower among government departments and State-Owned Enterprises compared to other industry stakeholders.
“There has been no indication, for example, that the government fulfilled its commitment to ensure that government departments and state-owned enterprises procure locally produced sugar,” Andrew noted
Andrew however expressed confidence that support from the highest level of government will allow the industry to survive the hardships brought on by the milling crisis, the Health Promotion Levy, and recurring flooding.
The South African sugar industry has existed since the mid-1800s. The association is however fearful that its heritage will be lost, along with the millions of jobs it supports, unless the government intervenes to save the sector.