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The Political Economy of Sugar in Southern Africa

Research paper 2016 by Alex Dubb, Ian Scoones & Philip Woodhouse Journal of Southern African Studies, 43:3, 447-470

Summary: Ethanol production from sugar has been a long-standing strategy to generate greater value from sugar, strengthened over the past decade by EU and US mandates to include biofuel ethanol in gasoline fuels for vehicles. While perhaps initially enticed by guaranteed markets provided by mandatory blending schedules, EU bioethanol producers now appear set to become dependent upon them. It is indeed notable that the lobby to increase state-guaranteed bioethanol markets has occurred alongside the decline in producer quotas Until recently, much of the focus of ethanol output has been on export markets, but the widespread adoption of legal requirements for ethanol blends within southern Africa means increasing scope for sale of ethanol within the regional market. A requirement for one per cent ethanol in South Africa’s market for petrol fuel is estimated to be equivalent to 180,000 tonnes of exported sugar, approaching one per cent of total sugar output in South Africa.

The Political Economy of Sugar in Southern Africa, is an introductory paper where the historic and contemporary development of sugar cane production across southern Africa is reviewed. It is argued that the region’s sugar industry provides a useful lens through which to understand current dynamics of corporate capital and agricultural production in Africa. An article by Alex Dubb, Ian Scoones and Philip Woodhouse

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