Message from the Executive editor
Portia Mpofu
External Affairs Director
South African Sugar Association


As it has become tradition, the penultimate edition of the year focuses on the annual South African Sugar Technologists’ Association (SASTA) Congress.


The 92nd SASTA Congress will see delegates addressed by one of South Africa’s greatest sons and an internationally acclaimed astronomer. It is none other than Dr Bernie Fanaroff - the former founding director of the world-acclaimed Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa, former Deputy Director-General in the Office of the then President Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid activist. He is also a member of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Among his plethora of accolades is the Order of Mapungubwe (silver) conferred on him by former President Jacob Zuma.


Dr Fanaroff’s keynote address is titled "Looking Beyond The Horizon". It is inspired by one of Mandela’s famous quotes, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. He will tell the incredible story of the SKA and link it to the current state of the sugar industry, which is facing serious challenges. Is the sky the limit for the sugar industry?


The first technical session of the agriculture programme on Wednesday will have a bumper poster session. Poster authors will present an overview of their posters which will be on display in the exhibition hall for the duration of congress. The poster session will be followed by papers focusing on important parameters required for breeding of new sugarcane varieties. After the lunch break, the emphasis shifts to soil health.


The morning of the third and final day of congress commences with a session dedicated to agricultural engineering and economics. Presentations include some excellent initiatives being undertaken in the small-scale grower sector as well as some important research on methods to assess irrigation decisions. This is followed by a second session on plant breeding, with the majority of the research papers presented focused on the topic of sugarcane yield. The agriculture technical programme ends after lunch on Day 3 with a session dedicated to crop management.


The factory sessions begin on Wednesday morning with a session dedicated to poster submissions. A wide range of topics will be covered including SMRI-NIRS, sulphitation in refineries, desalination methods for concentrating vinasse and packing station optimisation through a time and motion study. The second session of Day 2 highlights work being done on biorefineries. The final session on Day 2 zooms in on boilers and energy. On Thursday, the spotlight will be on rawhouse operations. The final Congress session is the commercial presentations.


Also in this edition are articles on critical issues such as the industry’s transformation journey so far, an update on diversification plans, a Women’s Month event, a profound AGM speech by SASA Chairperson, the economic impact of the industry in crisis, a successful agricultural finance model, a fertiliser plant owned by small-scale farmers, industry’s contribution to education and an important regional trade agreement set to benefit the industry.


Enjoy the read!


Portia Mpofu

External Affairs Director

South African Sugar Association



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