Letter From the Editor – SADC Sugar Digest 2020

Letter From the Editor – SADC Sugar Digest 2020

As editor of The Macadamia and Shukela publications and what was previously the SADC Sugar Digest, I am proud to bring the new look Macadamia Africa & SADC Sugar Digest to our readers and advertisers.

Earlier this year, we made a strategic decision to combine into one publication the news and stories on the sugar and macadamia nut industries in the South African Development Community (SADC) countries.

The reasoning was that while the sugar industry remains critically important to the SADC region, the production of the macadamia nut as a valuable source of foreign currency has attracted the attention of both governments and the private sector, particularly in countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

In Mauritius, research is under way into the viability of the crop and there are indications that international companies are interested in developing orchards in Tanzania, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We want to keep abreast of these trends to make sure we bring a publication to the market that is relevant, interesting and informative, and gives real value to our advertisers and readers.

In this, the very first of the new look digest, we have started on an editorial journey aimed at supporting these two vital agricultural sectors, which not only provide much needed employment in the southern regions of the African continent, but sustainable economic activity and vital support for rural communities.

As a result we have used critical research to explore the sugar industry in Tanzania, and its role in promoting women in the sector, what the United States sugar sector is doing to turn the impact of its sugar tax into a benefit for the industry, and the rebuild among smallholder farmers since the category two Cyclone Idai in Malawi early in 2019.

Further, the Sugar Millers Research Institute is ready to roll out its ground-breaking technology across all sugar factories in the SADC region, aimed at improving extraction performance.

This publication also provides extensive information and an overview of both the sugar industries and the macadamia sectors across the region.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

Industry leader bows out after almost three decades

Industry leader bows out after almost three decades

Despite having retired his seat on the SA Canegrowers board after 37 years, KwaZulu-Natal sugarcane farmer Roy Sharma says he still wants to give back all he can to a sector from which he gained so much over his lifetime.

Like so many families in KwaZulu-Natal of Indian descent, Roy Sharma’s great grandfather arrived on the shores of southern Africa in 1883 as an indentured labourer contracted to the British army.

Once his contract was over the family settled on 6ha of land east of the sugar-milling town of Tongaat where they grew mainly vegetables.

Sharma’s grandfather, Hurrinundan was a community man who built both a temple and a school for the surrounding community, while his father, Thiluk died in 1962 leaving 10 children for his wife, Gocilia to care for.

At the time of his father’s death Sharma was just seven years old.

“Times were tough particularly as my eldest brother had to give up his studies and return home to run the farm. I tried to find work elsewhere, but when my brother died in 1983, I came home,” he said.

In three generations the Sharma operation has grown from 6ha under vegetables to 400ha planted to sugarcane, with 15ha under macadamia trees. The dryland cane yields about 50 tons a hectare, which is supplied to the nearby Maidstone mill.

And now with Pratish, his eldest son, in the driving seat, Sharma says crop diversification on is well under way.

Commercial grower Roy Sharma discusses the challenges facing the industry in a field planted to N39 on his 400ha farm near Maidstone, KwaZulu-Natal.

“We have planted more than 5 000 macadamia trees, and I sometimes joke that the sugar industry will eventually be standing in the middle of macadamia orchards because so many farmers are planting them. But the sugar industry has to diversify. There are so many challenges facing us now. We can no longer rely on returns from the cane crop alone,” he said.

Sharma, who has served SA Canegrowers since its inception in 1992 on various structures, including its board, says the reason for his retirement is to make way for fresh minds and new ideas.

“I have been around for many years and gained institutional knowledge that is invaluable. That is one of the reasons I really enjoyed it when in bidding me farewell, former SA Canegrowers board chairman Graeme Stainbank said the organisation would be tapping into my knowledge whenever it needs to. I can still give so much and that’s what I want to do, because the sugar industry has made me who I am today. It has given me so much.”

During his tenure, Sharma also served as president of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers (WABCG), as well as a stint on the South African Sugar Association Council.

Resting serenely across the valley from Sharma’s homestead is a temple built by his grandfather, Hurrinundan.

But it’s the parlous state of the sugar industry where Sharma says he has a role to play, using his vast knowledge and experience to build a future for the sector based on dialogue between the stakeholders.

“There is this mistrust between millers and growers. I believe it is now critical for our future survival that we create an environment of trust, so we can have a heart-to-heart conversation and create a platform where we can support each other. We have to find innovative ways to move the sugar industry forward.  So many people depend on this industry, it must survive and thrive.”

On the highlights of his career, Sharma said being asked to facilitate the 2015 International Sugar Organisation conference in London was a landmark moment for him.

“Serving on the WABCG was also a great experience. I travelled all over the world, worked with great leaders and I believe I became known in the industry as someone who can be trusted.”

Deeply rooted in the culture of his Hindu faith, Sharma says there is nothing better than first-hand experience in life, which is how he learned to farm.

“Pratish, who is not only my son but my best friend, is taking over on the farm. We work so well together and yes, we have our disagreements, but that’s how we learn from each other. I see him taking up his position as a leader in the industry, following in my footsteps. My message to him, always, is to ‘walk the straight and narrow, to use the path that is tried and tested to take you to the goals you have set for yourself, and always know, there is no substitute for honesty’.”

Eldana: prevention is better than cure

Eldana: prevention is better than cure

The African sugar cane borer, Eldana saccharina, can cause significant losses in yield and RV, wiping out entire crops if left unchecked. An integrated pest management approach is required to ensure long term control is effective.

The Eldana moth has been a persistent pest in Africa for several decades and during its larva stage, one insect can cause losses of 0,5 tons per hectare. It is a resilient pest and it can survive crop burnings, leading to continuous infestation year after year.

However, tried and tested methods coupled with new chemicals are resulting in increased efficiency of Eldana control. This not only ensures a higher yield, but farmers can also leave their cane to mature, resulting in higher RV percentages instead of harvesting immature cane with higher non-sucrose sugars.

Identifying Eldana

The eggs of the African sugar cane stalk borer are yellow and oval and laid in batches under leaves. The larvae are a dark brown colour and if infested, will be found inside the cane. Tell-tale signs of infestation include feeding marks on funnel leaves and holes in tunnelled stems, as the larvae seek out the soft tissue on the inside of the stalks on which to feed.

The adult borers are small, with a wingspan of 35mm. The forewings are pale brown with two dark spots in the centre. The hind wings are whitish, with a short fringe and brown veins.

Both growing cane and harvested fields should be inspected by selecting random pieces of cane and breaking it open. Infested stalks will also have red rot fungus.

Breeding of moths takes place continuously and it is not a seasonal pest. Farmers should therefore be continuously on the lookout.

Preventative measures

Adding to the significance of the pest is that no single control method is effective on its own. Unlike Brazil, which has approved the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) sugar cane that is resistant to that country’s cane borer, South Africa is far from approving a GM crop for the industry. The pest therefore requires an integrated approach to management.

The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) advocates the simultaneous application of different control measures. These include:

  • Correct choice of variety: varieties not ideally suited to your area will be under more stress than those that are better suited, resulting in cane that is more susceptible to pests and disease. Furthermore, varieties like N12, N21, N29, N33, N39, N41 and N42 are more resistant to Eldana. Also ensure that you use high quality, healthy seed cane.
  • Good soil and crop management practices: as stated above, stressed crops are more prone to infestations, and ensuring the correct moisture levels in the soil will reduce stress. Managing silicone and nitrogen to maintain optimum levels is crucial, as insufficient levels of the former and excessive levels of the latter increase chances of infestation.
  • Good field hygiene: when harvesting, cane should be cut as low as possible to reduce the amount of stubble left on the ground. This also means that fields and loading areas should be cleared of any stalks so that a habitat is not created for Eldana to flourish.

The chemical route

Insecticides like alpha-cypermethrin pyrethroids can be used in carry over cane to allow the crop to mature without excessive damage. A  120-day withholding period applies if the cane is cut green. If burnt, the withholding period is one day.

Alpha-cypermethrin is not a complete solution and can only be used in carry over cane. It should be applied to fields where there is excessive damage or the threat of infestation is high, rather than as a blanket application to all fields.

The African sugar cane borer, Eldana saccharina, can cause significant losses in yield and RV, wiping out entire crops if left unchecked. An integrated pest management approach is required to ensure long term control is effective.   Copy: The Eldana moth has been a persistent pest in Africa for several decades and during its larva stage, one insect can cause losses of 0,5 tons per hectare. It is a resilient pest and it can survive crop burnings, leading to continuous infestation year after year.  However, tried and tested methods coupled with new chemicals are resulting in increased efficiency of Eldana control. This not only ensures a higher yield, but farmers can also leave their cane to mature, resulting in higher RV percentages instead of harvesting immature cane with higher non-sucrose sugars.  Identifying Eldana  The eggs of the African sugar cane stalk borer are yellow and oval and laid in batches under leaves. The larvae are a dark brown colour and if infested, will be found inside the cane. Tell-tale signs of infestation include feeding marks on funnel leaves and holes in tunnelled stems, as the larvae seek out the soft tissue on the inside of the stalks on which to feed.   The adult borers are small, with a wingspan of 35mm. The forewings are pale brown with two dark spots in the centre. The hind wings are whitish, with a short fringe and brown veins.   Both growing cane and harvested fields should be inspected by selecting random pieces of cane and breaking it open. Infested stalks will also have red rot fungus.   Breeding of moths takes place continuously and it is not a seasonal pest. Farmers should therefore be continuously on the lookout.  Preventative measures  Adding to the significance of the pest is that no single control method is effective on its own. Unlike Brazil, which has approved the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) sugar cane that is resistant to that country’s cane borer, South Africa is far from approving a GM crop for the industry. The pest therefore requires an integrated approach to management.  The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) advocates the simultaneous application of different control measures. These include:  Correct choice of variety: varieties not ideally suited to your area will be under more stress than those that are better suited, resulting in cane that is more susceptible to pests and disease. Furthermore, varieties like N12, N21, N29, N33, N39, N41 and N42 are more resistant to Eldana. Also ensure that you use high quality, healthy seed cane.   Good soil and crop management practices: as stated above, stressed crops are more prone to infestations, and ensuring the correct moisture levels in the soil will reduce stress. Managing silicone and nitrogen to maintain optimum levels is crucial, as insufficient levels of the former and excessive levels of the latter increase chances of infestation.   Good field hygiene: when harvesting, cane should be cut as low as possible to reduce the amount of stubble left on the ground. This also means that fields and loading areas should be cleared of any stalks so that a habitat is not created for Eldana to flourish.  The chemical route  Insecticides like alpha-cypermethrin pyrethroids can be used in carry over cane to allow the crop to mature without excessive damage. A  120-day withholding period applies if the cane is cut green. If burnt, the withholding period is one day.   Alpha-cypermethrin is not a complete solution and can only be used in carry over cane. It should be applied to fields where there is excessive damage or the threat of infestation is high, rather than as a blanket application to all fields.   The natural route  One of the most effective control methods for Eldana is the push-pull method, whereby  the habitat is manipulated to provide an alternative habitat for the Eldana moths, while planting crops between the sugar cane that repel the moths. In one trial at SASRI, push-pull (when used in conjunction with the other measures listed above) reduced damage from Eldana by more than 50%.   Sugar cane land does not have to be sacrificed for the additional crops as they can be planted in areas not suited to cane or in wetlands and waterways.  When Eldana eggs are laid in indigenous ‘pull’ plants in wetlands, they are more accessible to their natural enemies and the population can be controlled naturally. GM maize is a good option to use as a pull plant and is referred to as a dead-end trap crop as it is toxic to moth caterpillars and kills them within the first two days of feeding. It can be planted along the borders of the fields.  To repel the moths from the cane and push them towards the GM maize, Molasses grass is used as a ‘push’ plant.   Species of sedges like Cyperus dives and Cyperus papyrus can also be used as pull plants and are planted in wetlands adjacent to cane fields.  SASRI states that for push-pull to be effective it is important that farmers work actively to keep their wetlands healthy and to promote the growth of natural pull plants for Eldana, such as these sedges.  The push and pull plants also have additional uses over and above controlling Eldana. Molasses grass can be cut and used as a good cattle fodder. GM maize, which is resistant to damage by stemborers such as Eldana, can be used for human consumption or as cattle feed. The sedges, if managed well, can be used for weaving and basketry and also have medicinal properties.

The natural route

One of the most effective control methods for Eldana is the push-pull method, whereby  the habitat is manipulated to provide an alternative habitat for the Eldana moths, while planting crops between the sugar cane that repel the moths. In one trial at SASRI, push-pull (when used in conjunction with the other measures listed above) reduced damage from Eldana by more than 50%.

Sugar cane land does not have to be sacrificed for the additional crops as they can be planted in areas not suited to cane or in wetlands and waterways.

When Eldana eggs are laid in indigenous ‘pull’ plants in wetlands, they are more accessible to their natural enemies and the population can be controlled naturally. GM maize is a good option to use as a pull plant and is referred to as a dead-end trap crop as it is toxic to moth caterpillars and kills them within the first two days of feeding. It can be planted along the borders of the fields.

To repel the moths from the cane and push them towards the GM maize, Molasses grass is used as a ‘push’ plant.

Species of sedges like Cyperus dives and Cyperus papyrus can also be used as pull plants and are planted in wetlands adjacent to cane fields.

SASRI states that for push-pull to be effective it is important that farmers work actively to keep their wetlands healthy and to promote the growth of natural pull plants for Eldana, such as these sedges.

The push and pull plants also have additional uses over and above controlling Eldana. Molasses grass can be cut and used as a good cattle fodder. GM maize, which is resistant to damage by stemborers such as Eldana, can be used for human consumption or as cattle feed. The sedges, if managed well, can be used for weaving and basketry and also have medicinal properties.

Small farm, Big impact

Small farm, Big impact

Whether farming on one hectare or 100, the basic principles remain the same and hard work and dedication ensure results. Small scale farmer Nelly Thabisile Lubisi says being an example to her children that there is money in farming is what pushes her to succeed.

When Nelly Lubisi was allocated 3,9ha of land in a tribal area known as Fig Tree by the Hoyi Trust Village chief in the Tonga region of Mpumalanga in 1994, she planted maize as a subsistence farmer to provide food for her family. “I got just enough for home consumption. There was nothing left to sell and bring in an income.

“Then we were approached by RCL FOODS’ sugar division in Malalane to start growing sugar cane as they could provide market security for the cane. The profitability would also be far higher than maize, which meant we could earn an income.”

The farmers within the Fig Tree Farmers’ Association then worked closely with RCL extension officers to establish the sugar cane, and Lubisi absorbed every word of advice she received, eager to transform her piece of land.

She later inherited her father’s land allocation of 12ha and now farms sugar on two properties, totalling 15,9ha. The irrigation infrastructure and costs are shared among all of the farmers within the farmer’s association and contractors are used to apply fertiliser and cut the cane at harvest time.

Lubisi said that her life has changed since switching to sugar cane. “When I was planting maize we only had enough to eat at home, not enough to sell. Since earning an income from the cane, I have been able to send my children to school and build a house. Our quality of life is far better.”

Unfortunately the land can’t be extended beyond what the chief has allocated to her, so Lubisi needs to make the most from the small piece she has, putting in all her efforts to achieve the maximum yield. With a yield of 130 tons per hectare and an RV of between 12 and 13, her hard work pays off.

Evans Mashego, senior agricultural business advisor for the South African Cane Growers’ Association in Mpumalanga, said Lubisi was one of the strongest sugar cane farmers he has ever worked with. “She proves to other women that it is possible to be a successful female farmer. She is an inspiration and has a can-do attitude, with no plans to stop farming any time soon, despite her age.”

At 54, Lubisi farms full time and apart from the work done by the contractors,  is a hands-on farmer, with her fingers deep in the soil. “I really enjoy farming, regardless of the crop. I love working with the soil, out in the fresh air,” she smiles.

The secret to a good crop was following the ‘recipe’ step for step and ensuring that everything that needed to be done was done on time, she added. “If you don’t stick to your plan, things go wrong and you will see it in your yields. Fertiliser needs to be applied at certain times, weeds removed and water applied regularly.”

Mashego said Lubisi had mastered her plan for a good crop. “She makes an effort to attend whatever classes are offered to the farmers from SASRI (South African Sugarcane Research Institute) where she can improve herself.

“She’s not lazy and she’s always here on the farm, in between her cane, so if there is a problem, like this morning when the irrigation was not working, she can attend to it quickly. Other farmers who only get to their land every few weeks would have suffered enormous losses by then.”

While Lubisi has challenges like theft, fires and stolen irrigation pipes, she shrugs her shoulders and says that since there is nothing that can be done about it, she just has to carry on working hard.

 

If farming is in your heart, then you will succeed, she believes. “It’s about your attitude and good management. I know my hard work pays off at the end of the day and what I earn is directly attributed to how much effort I put in.”

When Lubisi receives her income from the cane she calls her three children closer to show them the money. “Then they can see with their own eyes that there is money in farming – even if some people say there isn’t. Everything we have today is a result of the income from the sugar cane. So I take my children with me to the fields and show them how it is done so that they can take over one day. They help with the harvest and are well prepared to farm.”

SASTA adding value to the sugar chain

SASTA adding value to the sugar chain

As South Africa’s sugar industry looks to its grower section to manager the functions of the South African Sugar Research Institute, Dr Kathy Hurly who is the Corporate Executive at SA Canegrowers, poses the argument for research and development in a time of crisis to ensure the sustainability and growth of the sector through innovation and new technology investment.

The article draws on material from a number of conferences that cut across the sugarcane, food and agricultural sectors where experts agree that unlocking new ideas in both the field and the factory, were absolutely necessary for a thriving industry.

“No change in our behaviour will kill the sugarcane industry”

Dr Frikkie Botha – Sugar Research Australia

At the opening of the 2019 International Farm Management Association conference in Tasmania, Professor Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Australian Centre of International Agriculture Research said:

Dr Kathy Hurly

“For commodity yields to increase, invest in research and development (R&D); for commodity costs to decline invest in new technology, and to secure better commodity prices, identify new high value products and components.”

Also, Mick Keogh of the CEO Australian Competition and Consumer Council predicted that the declining prices of commodity markets would continue with the dairy and sugar industries being the most impacted in the agriculture sector.

At SA Canegrowers we are asking ourselves how we can realise the best value out of research and development in a climate where prices have declined?

And without a doubt, we believe success is pivotal on the adoption of new technology by our growers.

Beet sector leads the way

To answer Campbell’s first proposal on investing in R&D for increased yields, Dr Mambully Gopinathan showed at the 2013 International Society for Sugar Technologists’ Association  (ISSCT) meeting in Brazil, that growth in sugar production over the past five decades had come largely from area expansion and to a limited extent from yield increase.

Sugarcane he said, had shown one of the lowest yield growth rates among the world’s major crops in stark contrast to the success in the sugar beet industry.

At the 2016 ISSCT conference, Dr Frikkie Botha  from Sugar Research Australia said the beet industry’s success was due to a singular focus on research and development and once studies were agreed upon, they were appropriately resourced to make sure the outcome promoted the industry’s common and strategic goals.

The beet industry has set itself a 25 tons sugar-a-hectare as their yields benchmark. Every aspect of their research is aimed at achieving this business objective.

“No distractions from stakeholders with pet projects is permitted,” Botha said.

However, beet produces a seed and sugarcane has a complex genome, which raises the question as to whether such focus is achievable in the sugarcane sector.

“Bright young things”

Botha said Thailand was the only sugarcane industry reflecting consistent growth while the rest of the sugarcane world had displayed no growth.

Effective R&D programmes, he added, were at the very core of the sugar industry’s sustainability and the fact that sugarcane research had little to demonstrate compared to the beet industry, was because all the key sugar industry players did not have the same approach as the R&D management in the beet industry. 

“No change in our behaviour will kill the sugarcane industry” Botha said while proposing that ways to empower innovators must be found with support from management.

“People are critically important in reaching this goal and their environment should stimulate and provide them with personal growth. Bright young things should be at the centre of the R&D business,” he said.

At the 2010 ISSCT conference, the management workshop however identified a ‘disconnect’ between sugar industry principals and those in attendance proposed these ‘disconnects’ could be mitigated by:

(1) researching economic value-adding industry ‘needs’;

(2) eliminating research on uneconomic industry ‘wants’; and

(3) quantifying the economic return of R&D outcomes in other words seeing R&D as an investment and not a cost.

This, the meeting said, could be achieved by employing “economic/commercial” skills at research centres better able to communicate in the “language” of industry and increasing the participation of stakeholders at strategic stages in the iterative R&D planning process.

A growing international trend is to replace historical productivity R&D objectives with a “vision of sustainability” from a collective economic, environmental and social perspective.

These are important considerations for the South African sugar industry as it looks towards the grower section to manage the R&D function of the SA Sugarcane Research Institute going forward.

Results drive funding

Understandably, funders become reluctant to invest in R&D when benefits are not realised and/ or they are difficult to quantify.

Generally, the value of the international agricultural R&D spend is too low and South Africa is no different. Traditionally all commodities, except sugar, have relied on government to invest in research.

A survey undertaken by AgriSA ahead of the commodity conference this year showed, however, that this has changed over the past decade with spend supporting multidisciplinary teams addressing cross commodity research issues in both private and university institutions.

In many sugar growing countries great benefit has been achieved through a similar model.

For example, Sugar Research Australia used the Australian Centre for Research and Development system to utilise the best expertise to solve their problems through a consortia created to address cross cutting industry problems more effectively, and, at a reduced cost.

The same can be said in South Africa where unlikely collaborators such as GrainSA and ForestrySA have identified common research issues that could be funded collaboratively.

At the AgriSA commodity conference this year, greater collaboration and sharing of resources was identified as being able to assist the smaller and struggling commodities to set up research projects to address competitiveness and food security.

In the grain industry, applied research is being done where new technology is tested and improved on by farmer groupings within their farming systems.

The grain industry has noticed the research findings and their application are transferred more successfully from farmer to farmer.

This model was corroborated by Eva Schröer-Merker Massey from the University of New Zealand and now by Harper Adams from the University UK  (IFMA 2019) who found the best way to facilitate the flow of information is through farmers’ professional and social networks.

Similarly, Alison Bailey from the Massey University (IFMA 2019), has shown that farmers trust information sourced from their peers the most while the least trusted is information from academics.

This approach is not risk free but it would speed up the testing of “new technology to reduce costs” and it could assist the sugar industry to improve early variety uptake which is slow according to William Burnquist, Kerry Redshaw and Ross Gilmour at the ISSCT 2010 conference hosted in Mexico.

As a result the researchers say, the true value of research and development is unrealised.

Attaching an economic value to the technology (increasing income or reducing costs) has also promoted adoption as demonstrated by Nick Pyke – the former head of the Foundation for Arable Research – at the 2011 IFMA conference where he said technology uptake was driven by “removing a pain” for farmers.

For example, innovations that provided a simple immediate response had the highest adoption rate at  80% of the farmers within two years, as compared to a wheat calculator that took six years to gain the same 80% in adoption.

Extensionists need to package scientific outcomes to achieve maximum adoption but scientists also need to make sure they focus on technology solutions that either alleviate a pain or provide a gain for the grower.

Meeting Campbell’s proposals

Many sugar growing countries focus on either grower or miller research which limits exploring the integrated value chain potential and impacts the area of “ new high value products and components” and the potential of sugarcane as a multiple feed stock for production of sugar, energy, bio-fuels and bio-polymers.

Speeding up innovation of new products or improving current products requires a value chain multi-disciplinary approach to ensure full participation of the value chain.

Value of SASTA and ISSCT

Both the annual South African Society for Technologists’ Association congress and the ISSCT conference – which is held every three years – provide ideal platforms for latest findings on science, engineering and technology research within the milling and growing sector but also research that impacts the value chain. 

Conferences allow for knowledge exchange, networking and peer review.

The ISSCT has also developed international sugarcane round tables that create opportunities for traditional competitors and adversarial stakeholders to work towards a common objective. The International Consortium of Sugarcane Biotechnology and the International Sugarcane Biomass Utilization Consortium of the ISSCT primarily meet these objectives.

SASTA has also looked at new ways to address value chain and industry issues through workshops and invited paper submissions.

These gatherings also provide a great opportunity to build collaboration and gather ideas from delegates on new research areas that need consideration.

Attendance at SASTA and ISSCT allows delegates to gain insight into current research and innovation outcomes in the sugar industry value chain and application of these insights lead to unlocking new ideas on farm and in the factory.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Letter From the Editor – SADC Sugar Digest 2020

As editor of The Macadamia and Shukela publications and what was previously the SADC Sugar Digest, I am proud to bring the new look Macadamia Africa & SADC Sugar Digest to our readers and advertisers. Earlier this year, we made a strategic decision to combine into...

read more

Industry leader bows out after almost three decades

Despite having retired his seat on the SA Canegrowers board after 37 years, KwaZulu-Natal sugarcane farmer Roy Sharma says he still wants to give back all he can to a sector from which he gained so much over his lifetime. Like so many families in KwaZulu-Natal of...

read more

Eldana: prevention is better than cure

The African sugar cane borer, Eldana saccharina, can cause significant losses in yield and RV, wiping out entire crops if left unchecked. An integrated pest management approach is required to ensure long term control is effective. The Eldana moth has been a persistent...

read more