SUGAR PRODUCTION STARTED AT ONLY 5 600 TONS PER ANNUM
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.
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.