Swazi Observer - - BUSINESS UPDATE - By Man­qoba Makhubu

THOUGH the su­gar­cane sec­tor now pro­duces over 700 000 met­ric tons (MT) of su­gar, over 230 000 MT of mo­lasses and gen­er­ates rev­enues in ex­cess of E4 bil­lion, it only started with a sin­gle ir­ri­gated scheme and mill, with out­put only amount­ing to 5 600 tons.

On Wed­nes­day evening, hun­dreds of stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing grow­ers, millers, fi­nancers, in­vestors and gov­ern­ment gath­ered to re­flect on the growth of the in­dus­try in the past 50 years dur­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Swazi­land Su­gar As­so­ci­a­tion (SSA) golden ju­bilee.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion was also graced by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the SSA long stand­ing cus­tomers Czarnikov from the United King­dom, the South African Su­gar As­so­ci­a­tion (SASA), ACP/LDC Lon­don Su­gar In­dus­tries and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mozam­bique Su­gar Pro­duc­ers (APAMO) amongst oth­ers.

Speak­ing dur­ing the func­tion, Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Sibu­siso Dlamini ap­plauded the SSA for play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing the in­dus­try for five decades.

SSA sells su­gar pro­duced in the coun­try. It is also re­spon­si­ble for es­tab­lish­ing pol­icy, gen­eral de­vel­op­ment and the reg­u­la­tion of the in­dus­try.

Dlamini said not only has the sec­tor cre­ated sub­stan­tial em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially at small­holder level, but it has also been ranked as high as third in in­ter­na­tional as­sess­ment of cost com­pet­i­tive­ness.

“This un­doubt­edly re­flects the strong part­ner­ship be­tween grow­ers and millers, that has been essen­tial to the suc­cess of the sec­tor, sup­ported by the reg­u­la­tion work of SSA and com­ple­mented by the Su­gar In­dus­try Agree­ment which is the mech­a­nism that guides the re­la­tion­ship be­tween millers and grow­ers,” he said.

Dlamini said the suc­cess of this model 50 years on was il­lus­trated by the con­tin­ued growth of the sec­tor de­spite re­cur­ring chal­lenges.

In the du­ra­tion of the past 50 years, the in­dus­try sur­vived se­ri­ous chal­lenges such as the 1984 trop­i­cal storm Domo­nia, the droughts of 1991 to 1994 and 2015 to 2016 and the chang­ing in­ter­na­tional mar­ket land­scape.

Cur­rently, su­gar­cane grow­ing makes up nearly 70 per cent of the coun­try’s to­tal agri­cul­tural out­put. One third of agri­cul­tural work­ers are in su­gar­cane grow­ing and su­gar milling out­put makes up 25 per cent of to­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing out­put and con­trib­utes 10 per cent to gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP).

SSA Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Phil Mnisi said 50 years was in­deed a mile­stone that was mon­u­men­tal not to just SSA and the su­gar in­dus­try, but to the King­dom as a whole, es­pe­cially on the eve of its own golden ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tion next year.

“We are al­ready look­ing ahead at en­sur­ing that the su­gar sec­tor’s legacy re­mains for gen­er­a­tions to come. We are con­sid­er­ing short, medium and long-term sus­tain­abil­ity so­lu­tions, par­tic­u­larly around drought re­cov­ery which im­pacted im­mensely in our in­dus­try in the past three years,” he said.

He thanked the re­lent­less sup­port of gov­ern­ment to­wards grow­ing the sec­tor.

Tibiyo TakaNg­wane Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Dr. Ab­sa­lom Dlamini com­mended the roles played by dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers within and out­side the sec­tor to keep the in­dus­try go­ing over th­ese years.

“SSA has been and con­tin­ues to be a piv­otal part­ner and in­dus­try maker, en­sur­ing that the sec­tor re­mains pro­fes­sional, prof­itable and that Swazi­land re­mains an at­trac­tive in­vest­ment part­ner,” he said.

SSA Pres­i­dent Oswald Mag­wenzi at­trib­uted the suc­cess of SSA to the good lead­er­ship of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the en­abling en­vi­ron­ment cre­ated by gov­ern­ment.

“SSA has also thrived due to the strong part­ner­ship of millers and grow­ers and co­op­er­a­tive part­ners, es­pe­cially the Euro­pean Union (EU),” he said.

(Pics: Lucky Sime­lane)

KEY NOTE: Prime Min­is­ter Dr Sibu­siso Dlamini de­liv­er­ing his speech dur­ing the Swazi­land Su­gar As­so­ci­a­tion (SSA) 50 years Cel­e­bra­tions at the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day.

FIRST TA­BLE: PM and other in­vited guests in full con­cen­tra­tion.

GOOD LEAD­ER­SHIP: SSA Pres­i­dent Oswald Mag­wenzi mak­ing his re­marks.

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