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South Africa

Cane and Rural Development Unit

The Tongaat Hulett Cane and Rural Development Unit (CRDU) is responsible for working with cane suppliers, being large scale commercial farmers, medium scale farmers, land reform farmers and small scale farmers, either through cooperatives or individually.

Tongaat Hulett partners with commercial growers to increase cane quality and yield. Recent initiatives include the seed cane improvement initiative, where Tongaat Hulett supplied hot water treatment tanks to improve seed cane quality, and a replant assistance loan to ensure farmers were able to cover the costs or replanting. A cane ripening subsidy was also provided.

Tongaat Hulettís strategy is to expedite an increase in sugarcane supplies to its operations with numerous cane supply initiatives that include the development of indigenous sugarcane farmers underway in all the sugar operations. This process, which is ongoing, will ensure that private farmers receive the support required for them to be sustainable into the future and include actions related to unlocking land for sugarcane development and grant funding from Government. Tongaat Hulett is of the view that as the business continues to empower indigenous private farmers, it is positively impacting the communities that surround these cane growing operations. The recent signing of a cooperation agreement between Tongaat Hulett and the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), which is the custodian of some 2,7 million hectares of communal land in KwaZulu-Natal, is an important indicator of the businessís ongoing commitment to partnering with key stakeholders in the development of successful indigenous private farmers.

The achievement of the actions to increase cane planting requires effective stakeholder engagement and focus. The primary stakeholders are the existing and potential small-scale and commercial private farmers, rural communities, traditional authorities, development finance institutions and local and national Government. Tongaat Hulett, with an appropriately resourced team, is seeking to position itself through these initiatives as the partner of choice with these key stakeholders.

Focus remains on developing and implementing models that ensure sustainability of the cane growth plans, particularly with respect to cane development in the communal areas. This requires direct Tongaat Hulett involvement in obtaining financing, transport, procurement of inputs and harvesting of cane from communal areas, together with corporate social and economic investment in these areas. Involvement in training and skills transfer lend further support to Governmentís objective of rural development and job creation.