The Members of Parliament (MPs) were welcomed to the South African Sugar Association’s (SASA’s) Offices (KwaShukela) in Mount Edgecombe in the afternoon of 25 January 2018 by SASA Vice-Chairman Hans Hackmann who briefed them on, among others, the challenges facing the industry and progress made in terms of the recognition of the South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) by the sugar industry. The Committee welcomed the development and appreciated the efforts by SASA.
“The purpose of the oversight visit by the Committee was to get first-hand information from the smaller farmers on their contribution to the sector as well as their challenges and to engage with SASA and SAFDA. Among the issues that were discussed in these engagements with farmers were the lack of support for small farmers in the sector, technical barriers affecting the selling of the sugarcane to the millers, issues of drought, and the urgent need for transformation in the sector to ensure that all farmers have access to financial and non-financial support in the sector,” said Fubbs.
The Committee Members then proceeded to the tour of the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI). SASRI Director Carolyn Baker explained what the research institute was all about and the services it provided to the growers. The following morning (26 January 2018), the Committee visited the Sugar Terminal. They were hosted by Commercial Director Judith Wilson, Hackmann and SASA Executive Director Trix Trikam. Wilson explained in great detail to the MPs how the insufficient tariff had led the influx of cheap sugar imports, thereby displacing the local market. The critical issue of raising the tariff to an appropriate level has become even more urgent since the sugary drinks levy is set for implementation on 1 April 2018. Committee Members treated the matter with the seriousness it deserved and undertook to explore ways in which they could help address it.