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South African Farmers Development Association Support Sugar Price Increases and Has Concerns

August 9, 2018

The South African Farmers Development Association has issued a statement of support for an increase in the Dollar Based Reference Price (DBRP) from $566 to $680, but with some concerns.

Although SAFDA believes this is a step in the right direction to assist in the sustainability of black small-scale and emerging sugarcane farmers, the lack of transformation in the industry remains a concern.

SAFDA’s fight for full recognition in the South African sugar industry continues – with mediation talks between SASA, millers, and SA Canegrowers breaking down on August 2, 2018.

During the negotiation process both SASA (with millers) and SAFDA engaged in good faith by making proposals on how best to structure the sector to ensure that black sugarcane farmers – particularly small-scale and land reform farmers – can represent themselves in the industry and be sustainable.

However, in what is becoming common practice SA Canegrowers refused to engage on any of the proposals and insisted on returning to an ill-informed decision that was taken in December 2017.

At that time, SAFDA was negotiating from a disadvantaged position, with inadequate information, against white commercial farmers who have been in the industry for many decades.

The decision to structure associations to represent sugarcane farmers was at the time based on tonnage and members. As about 90% of tonnage is from white commercial sugarcane farmers, SAFDA would continue to be disadvantaged in terms of managing its operating costs - while SA Canegrowers would continue to have economic emancipation.

This is a very similar story to the South African one – where although black people have the vote and even a voice in some cases, the economic wealth remains in a few white hands.
 
History
 
For just under a century, SA Canegrowers has failed to provide comprehensive support to small-scale and emerging black farmers that would “give them a fighting chance to compete with apartheid-empowered white commercial farmers”.
 
“It is no secret that SA Canegrowers has been resisting change and fighting against transformation at every turn,” says Siyabonga Madlala, Chairman of SAFDA.
 
“SA Canegrowers has been resisting our attempts to transform. They have been spreading lies about corruption – and have even dragged the industry’s reputation through the mud by going to the media with fake news.
 
“For the past two years since SAFDA was formed, we have tried every available avenue to ensure that our black farmers are heard. SA Canegrowers has even defied Parliament by not embracing transformation.
 
“So now we must say enough is enough. It is time for us, the black farmers to take our rightful place in the sugar industry – and work for the betterment of our small-scale and land reform sugarcane farmers,” he added.
 
True transformation
 
As SA Canegrowers has simply refused to negotiate constructively around the current challenges, the matter of SAFDA’s recognition will be decided by the Department of Trade and Industry with the Minister imposing a decision on the industry.
 
SAFDA is confident that it is aligned with government priorities of agrarian reform and empowerment of the black small-scale and emerging farmer – all of which represents the true transformation and sustainability for which SAFDA stands – as recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.ends.

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