SA Canegrowers and Kwanalu celebrate Women in Agriculture this August

SA Canegrowers and Kwanalu celebrate Women in Agriculture this August


With Women’s month approaching, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Kwanalu, is launching a campaign to celebrate the contributions and roles of women in the sector, with the intention of creating a valuable network of women to connect, collaborate and inspire one another.

“Women and the agricultural sector are not synonymous, but the truth is that there are so many women involved in the industry besides for female farmers; including leading businesses, working in offices, in the field and on the road, as well as working indirectly within the farming sector in companies that are linked to the agricultural sector,” says Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.

The campaign will feature all women and their roles within the sector throughout August – from the small-scale grower to the CEO’s of agri-related businesses and institutions.

“As mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and aunts, women are often the backbone of support for the family – ensuring that there is food on the table and driving the successes of loved ones. On top of that, if they aren’t running their own business operations, they are often involved in many of the daily tasks that keep a farm, and the sector as a whole, supported,” says La Marque.

On Monday, 31 August, Kwanalu will host a Women in Agriculture Webinar, in partnership with SA Canegrowers, that will feature an all-female line-up of inspirational speakers who will share their tools for agri-business success, their experiences, how they overcame challenges in the industry and the art of juggling many hats as a woman.

Kwanalu calls on all women involved in the sector to join a welcoming network that aims to bring together like-minded women to connect, collaborate and inspire whilst gleaning on the experiences of others.

“It’s time that we recognise the contribution of women in the sector and, together, assist and inspire each other in our everyday challenges. It’s a chance to meet new friends, find new business and learn from one another in a safe space without judgement,” says La Marque.

Become part of the Women in Agriculture network or nominate someone you think may benefit from it, and find out more about the Women in Agriculture Webinar on 31 August. For further information on women in agriculture, farming in KZN and Kwanalu visit the website



Durban, 13th July 2020: Tongaat Hulett Sugar is actively partnering with 13 restitution communities overseeing 6 000 hectares across South Africa and has allocated hundreds of thousands of rands to promote sustainable land reform, support local communities and help create employment opportunities.


Tongaat Hulett Sugar Corporate Affairs Executive Nkonzo Mhlongo says the restitution projects have a strong local community element, and the company annually allocates funding to promote the social and economic wellbeing of the claimant communities. The restitution communities are administered by the Trustees or Communal Property Association (CPA) committee members on behalf of the claimants.

“We have seen excellent results, with over R11 million being paid to restitution communities in 2019, representing about 3 600 known beneficiaries, in the form of rental and a further R223 000 was paid in the form of the sugar industry interventions. These restitution projects created employment opportunities for 1 059 individuals and paid approximately R44 million in the form of wages,” she said.

In 2019, Tongaat Hulett Sugar allocated R342 000 towards the implementation of socio-economic development (SED) projects which included the renovation of offices.

Mhlongo says that over the years, funding had also been allocated towards the renovation of schools; support for vulnerable children in the respective communities through the donation of school uniforms; and other relevant educational material.  SED funding has also been allocated towards the education and training of the youth in these communities.  An additional R731 000 was allocated through the sugar industry. This funding was used to provide governance training for the Committee members and Trustees.

For the 2020/21 season, the sugar industry committed R14 million to build the capacity of farmers and land reform beneficiaries on matters relating to governance and agronomy. Tongaat Hulett supports such initiatives as they contribute to the viability of the farmers and restitution projects.  The capacity building and training programme is conducted by the Shukela Training Centre (STC) and targets a wide range of topics including good governance with a particular focus on the barriers to good governance. It also focuses on the roles and responsibilities and the code of ethics of Trustees or CPA members.

Makhosi Cebekhulu, a member of the Ubizo CPA, said that “the workshops are excellent – the facilitators educate and emphasise the two most important themes in restitution: good governance and administration.  I really liked the lecture on financial administration. Had we been exposed to such training a year after our election into office as a CPA, we would have put in place appropriate systems and we would have acquired the status of the best governed CPA”.

Ubizo community’s land was restored in 2015 and this approval resulted in the acquisition of land totalling 2 547 hectares to the value of R136 million. A total of 149 households were identified as the beneficiaries of this restituted land.  In 2018, Tongaat Hulett entered into a working arrangement with the CPA which resulted in the re-establishment of some 1 749 hectares under sugarcane. The farm has a maximum production capacity of 100 000 tons.  During the 2019/20 season, the farm produced some 98 000 tons of sugarcane; employed 409 people in the various roles within the farm including management, administration, planting, supervisors, cutters, herbicide operators and night watchmen.  A total of R17.1 million was paid in the form of wages in 2019.

Mduduzi Nzuza, a Trustee of Izindophi Community Trust at Eshowe said that “the governance training should have been implemented a long time ago.  The explanations provided on the various scenarios on governance matters were practical and relevant for our environment.  In fact, we have implemented some of the techniques that we learnt during the training.  We have now established sub-Committees to cascade information and accelerate implementation of projects at community level.  These types of training should not be a once off – they should be ongoing.  I would like to thank all the stakeholders that made such a workshop possible”.

Izindophi Community Trust officially took occupation of the land in 2003.  In 2012, the Trustees entered into a working agreement with Tongaat Hulett with the objective of re-establishing the property as a productive sugarcane farming enterprise for the benefit of the community.  A total of 436 hectares were re-established following the signing of the agreement.  During the 2019/20 season, the farm produced some 19 000 tons of sugarcane, created 80 employment opportunities in the various part of its operation and paid R3.3 million in the form of wages.

Spha Shabalala, Land Reform, Community Dynamics and SED Manager, said that governance training is one of the key steps required to ensure the long-term sustainability of restitution. “As government continues to restore land for individuals and communities previously dispossessed, the population of restitution projects will increase in the farming space. The same is true within the sugar industry. These projects are typically located in rural areas and are critical in functioning of the rural economy. Support for their sustainability translates to a number of socio-economic positives”.


Tongaat Hulett recognises that land reform is primarily an issue of basic human rights.  Under the land reform programme, Tongaat Hulett works with two categories of farmers. The first grouping is categorised as the restitution communities and the second category is classified as land reform growers farming for their own account. Typically, restitution communities acquire land, through government’s land claims process, as a group for the benefit of many beneficiaries.  With regards to the land reform growers, the beneficiary is the applicant which is mostly a few individuals.

The main objective of the restitution programme is to unlock the economic benefit of the land for the previously marginalized communities. It is also to enable communities, majority being rural communities, to drive the local economic development efforts in their local municipalities.  Some of the restitution communities in the sugarcane growing areas have approached Tongaat Hulett to partner with them and accelerate the implementation of the sugarcane development programme and rural development efforts. Through the restitution programme, the respective communities in partnership with Tongaat Hulett have created employment opportunities; facilitated the transfer of agricultural and administrative skills; and supported community upliftment activities.

CAPTION: Makhosi Cebekhulu, a member of the Ubizo Communal Property Association and the rural farming community (KZN), was trained by Tongaat Hulett Sugar under an Agricultural Internship Programme to become a farm assistant.

Sugar producer welcomes tribunal green light for sale of starch business

Sugar producer welcomes tribunal green light for sale of starch business

TONGAAT Hulett has welcomed a decision by the Competition Tribunal to approve without conditions the acquisition of Tongaat Hulett Starch by the KLL Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Barloworld.

The decision by the South African Competition Tribunal is the third approval in the jurisdictions that are relevant to the transaction, with the Botswana Competition Commission and the COMESA Competition Commission having already approved the transaction without conditions.

The final approval is awaited from the Indonesian Competition Commission and is expected in the first week of August.

Tongaat CEO Gavin Hudson said the approval of the transaction without conditions is a significant step forward towards finalising the deal. “The approval by the SA Competition Tribunal has been achieved within the anticipated timelines, despite the impact on the process due to the COVID-19 environment.

“This is good news and means we can focus on closing the final conditions relating to the deal. These involve obtaining the consent of our lenders, and the resolution of the MAC event that Barloworld has called,” he said.

In May, Barloworld indicated it believed a material adverse change (MAC) had occurred in relation to the sale of the starch business to Barloworld. Tongaat disputed this and, according to Hudson, “remains firmly of the view that a MAC has not occurred”. The matter has been referred to an independent third party for determination.

He said the company remained committed to finalising the disposal of the starch business, which is one of a range of initiatives Tongaat Hulett has initiated as part of its broader business turnaround process.

“The successful execution of any of these transactions, or a combination of them, will ensure we can deliver on our strategic business partnerships; step-changing our transformation initiatives, protecting employee jobs and helping support the economies of the countries in which we operate,” he said.

How to achieve shorter water-use licence process

How to achieve shorter water-use licence process

Achieving a 90-day turnaround for the water-use licence application (WULA) process will be a welcome step for the struggling economy, according to SRK Consulting principal scientist Jacky Burke.

Changes will be necessary, though, before the regional and national offices can make a 90-day process a reality, Burke noted.

“It remains vital that the licences issued in this 90-day process will in fact still serve the purpose of protecting our water resources; this means the licence cannot be too generic but should be specific to the activity or operation being authorised, and take into account the specific catchment requirements,” she said. “A shorter processing window is certainly the right approach to support getting our Covid-impacted economy back on its feet.”

She said it would also provide real socio-economic benefit to water users – particularly emerging water users – and surrounding communities.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) recently revised the regulations on WULA procedures, following a State of the Nation declaration by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February. He announced that water-use licences should be processed in 90 days, rather than the 300 days prescribed by previous regulations.

“Changes to facilitate implementing this new timeframe could include increased engagement between the applicant and the DWS before submission,” she said. “This would allow a review of completed supporting information and designs before the actual submission, so that the 90-day timeframe is focused on final review and administrative aspects.”

Improving the administrative process of compiling the licence could also involve reducing the cumbersome on-line WULA form process into a standardised water use information template, said Burke.

“Such a template could be used to directly generate a populated licence document, without the need to manually recapture the on-line information into the licence format,” she said. “Additional human resources – combined with IT improvements – would also facilitate the effective implementation of a 90-day process for all water use sectors.”

She noted that an ongoing consultative and supportive process between the DWS, applicants and consultants would also help to fast-track the achievement of a streamlined 90-day application process.

Jacky Burke principal scientist SRK Consulting 

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Informal sector significant contributor to agro-food value chain and food security

Informal sector significant contributor to agro-food value chain and food security

This was the clear message of both Professor Ferdi Meyer, Managing Director of the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), and Dr John Purchase, Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), in a webinar hosted by Nedbank Business Banking.

‘What the pandemic has made very clear, is that there are two distinct levels of food security – at a national level, which is secure, and at a household level, which is very precarious,’ says Meyer.

Purchase agrees, saying that the situation was fragile even before Covid-19. ‘We must acknowledge that the Zuma administration was disastrous for South Africans: per capita GDP was cut from $8 000 to $5 200, which means that South Africans are roughly 25% poorer in US dollar terms now than before the Zuma years.’

Then came Covid-19 and the lockdown, which Purchase says ‘cut off the legs’ of the informal food supply network. ‘Informal trade, which was a remarkably efficient mechanism, ceased. Physical and financial access became problematic and this has created a humanitarian crisis on the scale of the pandemic,’ he says.

Purchase says that the informal market in South Africa is significant, with 60% of bread, 30% of poultry and 40% of fresh produce moving through the informal trade and distribution sector, including quick-service restaurants.

Meyer adds that the informal food supply sector is also larger than expected, which contributes not only to food supply but also to job creation. ‘In the pork industry, for example, the informal herd in South Africa is huge – about half the value of the stock in the formal sector – and if we work that back to job equivalence, that is about 23 000 jobs in the informal pork supply chain alone.’

Purchase says that a number of initiatives are in place to support this sector, particularly to weather the storm created by the pandemic. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has ring-fenced R1,2 billion to support around 15 000 small-scale farmers, and Agbiz is working with the office of the Gauteng premier through the Public-Private Growth Initiative to develop food supply chain security in the informal market. The objective is less about food aid, and more about small-business development opportunities.

Even before the pandemic, Agbiz and BFAP were collaborating to drive the Masterplan Initiative for the agriculture sector, in conjunction with national government and other stakeholders. The objective of this masterplan is to ensure that infrastructure, skills, incentives and other resources are directed where they will have the greatest effect, including non-commercial and emerging farmers.

Purchase says that interventions should unlock job creation potential and food security, particularly in the emerging commercial farmers sector. This sector needs support and inclusive growth to contribute to national food security and livelihoods, and to use land productively. With the potential to create 1 300 to 1 500 additional jobs per 1 000 farms by 2030, Purchase says the key challenges faced by this sector include limited access to markets and quality financial services.

‘Due to the nature of our food system and geographic spread, we have the highest concentration of poor households in cities, but the poverty in rural areas is severe too. We have the double challenge of ensuring that the commercial highly competitive value chains supply food at the most affordable price into cities, while empowering smallholders in the informal sectors to make a significant contribution to rural areas and economies,’ says Meyer. ‘And that is where investment needs to focus – whether it is infrastructure, access to credit or insurance.’

Maluta Netshaulu, Senior Manager: Agriculture New Business Development at Nedbank, says that Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities in our food system as well as the importance of the informal sector to mainstream supply chains. ‘It now more than ever is clear that a concerted effort needs to be made to innovate new funding models for the smallholder and emerging farming markets to develop underutilised and unproductive arable land and increase investment in distribution systems in rural areas. This is to ensure and maintain affordable food, create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality. Nedbank has been participating in various industry engagements on blended funding models and partnerships to help attract investment in this segment.’

He adds that Nedbank, as a responsible lender and purpose-led financial institution, not only promotes and facilitates responsible and sustainable production but also encourages responsible consumption by ensuring that waste and loss in the agricultural value and supply chain is reduced.

John Hudson, National Head: Agriculture for Nedbank Business Banking, agrees that a critical component of food security is food waste, adding that the bank’s long-term sustainability partner, World Wildlife Fund South Africa, has been working to address food waste for a number of years. It forms a key element of the strategy to shift the food system onto a more equitable and sustainable trajectory.

‘An excellent example of this system in action is the outstanding work being done by leading national food distribution non-profit organisation FoodForward SA, in conjunction with key partners in the food value chain. FoodForward SA recently announced its strategic partnership with Agri SA and the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa. The partnership will see the collective leverage of more than 28 000 farmers and 1 000 farmer associations to get edible surplus fresh produce to communities suffering because of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ says Hudson.

John Hudson