SADC Sugar Producers Meet In Blantyre
"SADC Sugar Producers Meet In Blantyre "
150 delegates from the SADC region met in Blantyre from 20- 23 August 2013 for the annual conference of the Federation of SADC Sugar Producers (FSSP). The objective of FSSP is to promote common interests of sugar producers in the region in close collaboration with the SADC Technical Committee on sugar.
The conference was opened by Malawi’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Honourable Ulemu Chilapondwa. He said that in Malawi the sugar industry is one of the top four foreign exchange earners, is a major contributor to the Government revenues through taxes, employs a huge labour force and is a partner in rural development through corporate social responsibility projects which the investors carry out in the communities in which they operate.
The Deputy Minister said he was aware of the policy reforms taking place in overseas markets including the EU and US which will depress export markets and prices for sugar. “The reforms taking place underline the need for us to strategise the sustenance and growth of the much-needed investments in the economies of the region. Forums like this conference should exchange views and consider ways of promoting intra-African trade as proposed in the NEPAD framework,” he said.
Chairman of the organising committee of the conference Wilfred Chakanika said SADC countries produce approximately five million tonnes of sugar per annum, about three percent of the world’s total production, and export two million tonnes - equivalent to 40 percent of total production in SADC.
“Many SADC industries have potential for further expansion of their production, and it is through banging heads that this can be shared for ensuring that expansion happens for the benefit of our countries,” he said.
The conference was organised by a concerted effort of a task team set up under the Malawi Sugar Steering Committee which oversees the EU Sugar Accompanying Measures Program, following the ongoing restructuring of the EU sugar trade regime. The task team comprises representatives of Illovo Sugar, Shire Valley Cane Growers Trust, Dwangwa Cane Growers Trust, Ethanol Company, Concern Universal, and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Participants to the conference (themed ‘sugar sector – enhancing the livelihoods of rural people’) came from different sugar industry stakeholders within SADC countries such as Malawi, Angola, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
PAT MITCHELL (right), MD of Illovo Malawi, welcomes to the conference Honourable Ulemu Chilapondwa, with Wilfred Chakanika in the middle.