The sugar industry’s focus on producing a high quality, profitable and cost effective product is complemented by its focus on sustainable development and Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment. The industry is a major contributor to rural development, an area often neglected in an urbanizing society. This holistic approach includes the promotion of economic transformation, social investment and sustainable environmental practices.
“The industry is a major contributor to rural development, an area often neglected in an urbanizing society. This holistic approach includes the promotion of economic transformation, social investment and sustainable environmental practices.”
The industry’s initiatives in the area of economic transformation could best be summarised under its commitment to Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment, with focus on land reform, agricultural support services, employment equity and enterprise ownership.
The South African sugar industry has long recognised the need to promote diverse ownership of agricultural land under sugarcane and have a range of support instruments in place to promote the sustainability of initiatives aimed at changing the ownership profile of sugarcane land. It is worth mentioning that industry initiatives have contributed significantly to the transfer of 21% of freehold land under sugarcane from white growers to black growers.
Agricultural Support Services
The South African sugar industry has a long history of promoting and supporting small-scale farmers on tribal land. Building on the extensive infrastructure and network of the growers and millers, the industry has been able to engage effectively in ongoing delivery related projects.
Mentorship programmes focussing on business skills and grower support extension services are deployed to support cane growing activities. The South African Cane Growers’ Association also provides technical skills training for new and emerging cane growers, accounts and financial management workshops, regional economic advisors, a grower support service officer and access to a special VAT and diesel dispensation for small-scale growers. The South African Cane Growers’
Association has bolstered its regional economic service to provide local level support to new medium-scale black growers who have entered the industry since 1994, including beneficiaries of the government’s land reform programme.
The milling companies provide extensive services in support of the cane-growing operations of small- medium- and large-scale black farmers.
The South African Sugar Association provides in-field training to smallscale growers, offers certified courses in sugarcane agriculture and provides technology transfer and extension.
All participants in the industry promote compliance with the Employment Equity Act, and have integrated Employment Equity and Skills Development Plans in place that are monitored and updated annually. These have targets for recruiting, developing and promoting people from designated groups.
Participants in the sugar industry have been actively promoting and implementing the objectives of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act, and the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Strategy. Substantial progress has been made towards improving the ownership profile of the industry. Initiatives embarked upon by South African milling companies have resulted in increased black ownership of sugar manufacturing capacity.
The sugar industry’s involvement in social investment includes projects in the areas of Enterprise Development, Health and Welfare, and Human Resource Development.
The industry is involved in numerous projects such as the provision of seed funding to assist rural black women, youth and communities to establish co-operatives and to access economic opportunities. The enterprise development programmes seek to accelerate people’s access to employment opportunities and increase their participation in the mainstream economy.
Health and Welfare
The staggering challenge of poverty, HIV and AIDS, unemployment and household food insecurity not only affects the quality of life of the indigent, it also threatens the social stability of these vulnerable communities. Meeting these challenges is a priority of the sugar industry. The industry works in partnership with non-governmental organisations supporting vulnerable communities in order to respond to these issues.
Human Resource Development
Human resource development is a major area of social investment for the sugar industry. The following initiatives are maintained by the industry to promote human resource development, and are primarily focussed on promoting Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment:
The Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE) was launched in 1965 as a private sector initiative, and is one of South Africa’s oldest education and training programmes. To date SITFE has provided bursaries to more than 9 000 students, financed school building projects, given assistance to tertiary institutions, and worked with community-based educational authorities to improve overall education standards.
Agricultural and Engineering Training
The SASA Shukela Training Centre (Pty) Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Sugar Industry. Shukela Training Centre (STC) is a provider of agricultural and engineering training. Based in Mount Edgecombe, with on-campus accommodation, this Institute of Occupational Excellence, so conferred by the AgriSETA, provides training in a wide selection of trades and is a registered de-centralised Trade Test Centre. In 2009 over 300 artisans qualified at STC and 27 learners qualified in the Plant Production Learnership at NQF 4. Many small-scale and new farmers, including farm workers, receive sugarcane husbandry skills training.
Research conducted by the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) contributes to the profitability and sustainability of the industry whilst encouraging environmentally responsible farming practices. Outputs from the various research programmes at the Institute are transformed into practical knowledge and technology products. Training and development takes place through annual Certificate Courses in Sugarcane Agriculture and through a series of interventions by a network of extension specialists.
The Sugar Milling Research Institute (SMRI) is the central scientific organisation involved in research work and technical services for the southern African sugar manufacturing/milling industries. It was founded in 1949 and is located on the Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The South African Sugar Association’s Nutrition Department has developed a programme to communicate science-based information on the role of sugar as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to health and education professionals and the wider public. The programme contributes to capacity building and continued professional development of these professionals through support of nutrition research, congresses and nutrition education.
Social Investment Funding
SASA has a proud history of corporate social investment in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment within rural sugarcane growing communities.
SASA promotes a culture of self-reliance through our social investment and development programmes. We are active in District and Local Municipalities within KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. Our support to communities ranges from sugar donations and enterprise development to providing financial support to welfare and health organisations.