Tim Murray
SA Canegrowers


As growers near the end of another challenging season, I am reminded of the saying that “the farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer”.

Sugarcane growers have faced a number of challenges over the past few years – not least of which is the prolonged drought and the resultant lower quality of recoverable value (RV) cane being delivered to the mills. In 2016, the industry recorded some of the lowest RVs seen in almost a decade.

On a positive note, however, dryland sugarcane grower production has improved in terms of tons delivered over the latter part of 2016. This is mainly due to the winter, spring and early summer rainfall that has fallen over most parts of the cane growing regions in KwaZulu-Natal. 

The increasing tonnage is certainly an encouraging sign as we head into the 2017-18 season. Irrigated growers in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga remain under pressure, with their water supplies running low and severe restrictions in place. These areas have suffered a loss of approximately 30% of production due to the drought. 

SA Canegrowers continues with its endeavours to lobby for grower assistance, by engaging with financial institutions, submissions to the Land Bank as well as communicating with various government departments – both individually and as part of organised agriculture.

The highlight for growers in the 2016/17 season was the significant mid-season price increase of 15% which was mainly due to the low production of sugar cane as well as low export availability. This meant that growers received a much higher price for their crop. 

This year, SA Canegrowers commemorates an important milestone of 90 years in existence. It is a rare feat that few associations achieve and we are extremely proud of the Association’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances over the last nine decades.

There is little doubt that the resilience of South African sugarcane growers and the passion of grower representatives at farmer association, local grower council, Congress and Board level has played an invaluable role in ensuring a successful sugar sector in South Africa. 

It is the same resilience and passion that will stand us in good stead for whatever challenges lie ahead – and allow us to embrace change as we continue our journey to 100 years.

Tim Murray
SA Canegrowers