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Task team fights sugar threat

THE GOVERNMENT and the private sector have established a Sugar-Value-Chain task team to deal with threats facing the sugar industry as a result of an increase in deep sea sugar imports.

This as imports peaked around 500000tons for the 2017/18 season.

The task team is composed of representatives from beverage industry retailers, South African

Sugar Association (Sasa), small-holder farmers, small manufacturers and the Industrial Development Co-operation.

They will be looking at rapid solutions to the challenges facing the industry focusing on short, medium to long-term plans.

The first meeting of the team will be held today, where joint recommendations will be submitted to the ministers concerned. The biggest threat to the industry has been the sustained increase of deep sea sugar imports, according to a report from Sasa chairperson Suresh Naidoo.

He said the effect was that the imports displace locally produced sugar into the depressed global sugar market.

The South African Farmers Development Association (Safda) stated that the prices for the sugar cane had declined to such an extent that some growers have received negative statements at the end of the season and owe to the millers.

BITTERTASTE: Biggest problem facing the SA Industry hasbeen a sustained increasein deep sea imports, according to a Sasareport.

Safda said local producers cannot compete against subsidised foreign countries and the sugar producing countries around the world offer their sugar industry a range of policy support measures to protect them against the distorted world market.

They believe through collaboration between government and private sector some better solutions in terms of inclusive growth, transformation, competitiveness and sustainability of the industry can be attained. Sugar is a strategic industry in South Africa, contributing about R14 billion to the gross domestic product.

The industry employs 85 000 people directly, and indirectly provides work for a further 350000 people in food processing and other industries.

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