The SA Canegrowers' Association has expanded its campaign aimed at raising awareness of the serious threats facing the local sugar industry.
Chief among these is the significant share of the local market that cheap imports hold, the association said in a statement on Thursday.
"As a result of this trend, our local industry has been forced to export domestic surplus onto an over-supplied world market at a significant loss. This has put the future of the South African sugarcane industry under serious threat. Of particular concern are the futures of the 21 000 black small-scale growers, 65 000 farmworkers, 270 000 indirect jobs, and the one million livelihoods the industry supports," said the association.
"For every tonne of imported sugar that enters our market, our local South African industry loses R4 000. These losses totalled just over R2.2 billion in the last year alone. Specifically, consumers must look out for the Proudly South Africa logo or make sure the back of the bag says that the sugar is 100% produced in the country."
To encourage South Africans to buy local sugar products, the association has expanded its Home Sweet Home campaign to Gauteng, beginning with a billboard on the N2 highway at Gillooly's.
The campaign, launched on the N3 highway in SA's sugarcane region KwaZulu Natal last month, encourages South Africans to buy local sugar products in order to help safeguard what the association believes to be about one million livelihoods the industry supports. In KZN sugarcane operations provide an economic backbone for the rural community, according to the association.
"The sustainability of the industry has been under threat over recent years due to a confluence of simultaneous factors. In addition to the weak protection against cheap imports, there have been unprecedented droughts, plunging world sugar prices and a major drop in local demand for sugar due to the introduction of the 'sugar tax' by the SA government," says the association.
* Compiled by Carin Smith