Message from the
Executive Editor

Portia Mpofu
External Affairs Director
South African Sugar Association

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Welcome to this special edition of the SA Sugar Journal focusing on the 90th South African Sugar Technologists’ Association (SASTA) Congress. This special edition contains the full programme of the SASTA Congress.


Congratulations to SASTA on its 90th congress anniversary milestone. Over the last nine decades, SASTA has played a critical role and made immense contributions to the South African Sugar Industry. We retrace the last 90 years of SASTA congresses and shine the spotlight on some interesting technological advances and developments.


In this edition we have messages from the SASTA President Gavin Smith and SASTA Congress Organising Committee Chairman Dr Sumita Ramgareeb.  The keynote address at this year’s congress is titled “GM (genetically modified) sugarcane: Super Pain or Super Cane?” to be delivered by Dr Hennie Groenewald, Executive Manager of Biosafety South Africa. Should South Africa follow in the footsteps of Indonesia and Brazil in introducing GM cane for commercial use? What are advantages and disadvantages of GM sugarcane? These are some of the questions Dr Groenewald’s paper will address.


What has the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) been up to in the field of GM sugarcane? SASRI Principal Scientist Dr Sandy Snyman (Biotechnology, Crop Biology Resource Unit) has all the answers. SASRI has been hard at work – it has been conducting research on GM sugarcane since the 1990s. Read the cover story inside for more detailed information on the subject.


Dr Deborah Sweby and Natasha Sharma bring you the highlights of the bumper programme of the SASTA Congress. Eighty seven (87) papers were accepted for publication, which is about 30% more than the average number of papers publish over the last 10 years! The congress also features a specialist Factory session on Biorefinery and Downstream products. 


On the industry leadership, the South African Sugar Association (SASA) has a new Chairman, Suresh Naidoo, who was elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 25 July 2017. He replaces the former Chairman Rolf Lütge. We would like to thank Lütge for his great leadership during his term of office which included steering the sugar industry ship through the stormy seas precipitated by the worst drought since the early 1990s. Naidoo, a former SASA Vice-Chairman (until the AGM), has occupied various leadership positions in the industry. Therefore he has all the credentials to lead the industry on the right trajectory. We would also like to congratulate Hans Hackmann on his election as SASA Vice-Chairman. We wish them all the best.


Enjoy the rest of exciting stories in this edition. And you don’t want to miss Agent SneakPeeks!


Portia Mpofu 

External Affairs Director 

South African Sugar Association






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