Outlook positive for sugar in 2018
The 2018 outlook for sugar looks positive following an assurance from the Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (Sugam) of a healthy crop in Nchalo and Dwangwa and a secure domestic market.
Sugar is Malawi’s second major foreign exchange earner and despite the threat of fall armyworms, which also attack sugar, Sugam has painted a bright future and that Malawians should be assured of consistent supply of the commodity.
This is coming after Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited also gave a commitment that it has sufficient stock to serve the domestic market and also has surplus in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
But in a statement, signed by Board Chairperson, Frighton Njolomole, Sugam indicated that the association is banking on government and other stakeholders to help farmers access the chemical that has been identified to fight the spread of fall armyworms as most smallholder farmers cannot afford to buy the chemical.
“The challenge for smallholder sugarcane farmers is that the chemical is expensive and, therefore, most farmers will not be able to access it.
In addition, the farmers cannot afford to hire a plane to spray the chemical and would, therefore, rely on spraying by hand, which is not as effective as spraying using a plane,” Sugam said.
The association further said Malawian sugarcane farmers take great pride in the knowledge that their efforts and contributions are helping to ensure the continuation of Malawi’s legacy as a consistent supplier of quality sugar on the domestic market.
Recently, government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism reversed an importation license that was given to a new player in the sugar industry after the investor failed to meet requirements of the license.
Sugam said the threat of additional sugar supply in Malawi, by way of either authorised or unauthorised sugar imports, raised serious threat to the continuing sustainability of the local sugar industry.
The association further said throughout the world, sugar is one of the most highly protected agricultural commodities and, therefore, almost without exception, all sugar producing countries protect their domestic markets through tariffs in one form or another.
“This practice continues to be of strategic importance to the ongoing viability of these industries.
“The revocation of the import license is a clear indication that government has the nation’s interests at heart and that it is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the industry whilst, at the same time, ensuring that Malawian rural sugarcane farmers continue to benefit from their hard work,” Sugam said.
About 5,000 Malawian smallholder farmers under Sugam contribute around 20 percent of the total sugarcane crop to Illovo Sugar Malawi PLC.