Africa Sugar Digest, Vol. I, No 10, May 2010

South Africa: Sugar industry seeks an agreement with EU

The South African Sugar Association (SASA) is lobbying the South African government to reach an agreement with the European Union on EU imports of about 3.5 million tonnes of sugar per year from the ACP countries. While the EU will not grant South Africa the same support given to the ACPs, SASA said that the latter may not be able to supply all the sugar needed by the EU. Domestic production in the EU fell from about an annual 20 million tonnes to 16 million as a result of the reforms to the sugar regime. SASA said that South Africa’s sugar industry is in a position to “play a meaningful role” in filling the gap that the ACP may not be able to cover.

Kenya: Nzoia Sugar starving for cane

Nzoia Sugar Company may soon run out of cane for milling if the practice of sending cane meant for the factory to private millers and jaggeries continues, reported local media. According to a company spokesperson some 600 tonnes of cane per week are sent to other processors, even when the company pays more for the cane. He blamed cane smugglers with hired thugs who, in at least one occasion, overwhelmed Nzoia’s security team comprising of regular police and private guards. He added that the practice may have a negative impact on the proposed privatisation of the paraestatal sugar companies, Nzoia included. On their side, cane farmers complained that the company does not pay them on time for their cane, while the jaggeries pay in cash and on the spot.

Zambia: Zambia Sugar reports vast increase in production

Illovo Sugar’s subsidiary Zambia Sugar reported an output of 315,000 tonnes for the year ending in March, which represents a 62 percent increase over the previous year’s 194,000 tonnes. Once the expansion program reaches its full potential by 2011/2012, Zambia Sugar will produce around 440,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Operational profits for the fiscal year more than double to USD 33.4 million as a result of the increased cane crop in Nakambala Sugar Estates and the acquisition of Nanga Farms, according to the company. It added that exports to the EU were 90,000 tonnes, in comparison to 40,000 tonnes in the previous season.

Malawi: Deaths in Illovo Sugar factories

On issue No 9 of Africa Sugar Digest, we reported a fatality in Dwangwa, owned by Illovo Sugar in Malawi. Keeper Gumbo, with the sugar workers union SPAWUM, has provided further information on the case. On 9 April, Thale Juma, a casual worker in his twenties, was instantly dead when he was hit by a tree which workers were cutting to feed the factory’s boilers, as the crushing season was to begin on 12 April. Keeper reported that Thale had been hired the day before his death, and was given no induction into his job. In what appears to be a major problem, there are allegations that the company misreported that the worker had worked for two years before his death, and also that after his death his contract status was changed from casual workers to seasonal.

A fatality in Nchalo, the other Illovo Sugar operation in Malawi, occurred four days before the Dwagwa incident. A worker named Kuleti, artisan and helper in the processing area, was involved in maintenance work (welding) on the diffuser and died from a fall. Kuleti had worked for more than seven years in Nchalo and was in his thirties.

Illovo Sugar Malawi reported a 13 percent increase in profits from MKW 6.3 billion to MKW 7.1 billion (about USD 47 million) for the year ending in March, even when production fell from 304,000 tonnes to 295,000.

IUF Sugar Project in Africa: Kenya and Uganda

A two-week program from 26 April to 7 May was developed with the Kenyan sugar workers union, KUSPAW that included four evaluation meetings in the estates of SONY, Chemelil, Nzoia and Mumias, and two regional workshops on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): one in Muhoroni in the eastern side of the sugar belt, with invited representatives from SONY and Chemelil; the other in Kakamega, western area, hosted by West Kenya, and with invited delegates from Nzoia and Mumias. The evaluation meetings looked at the impact of the project on the health and safety conditions in the workplace wih the participation of all union members of the joint safety committees in each estate. The evaluation was accompanied by visits to factory operations. The OSH workshops included visits to field and factory operations of the host estate. Two representatives of Uganda’s NUPAW participated in the first week of the program.

Very positive results have been achieved in the three-year work on OHS with KUSPAW. They range from structural issues (e.g. improved lighting in factories; building a new washrooms and showers for the use of workers in Nzoia; drainage systems) to improvements in the performance of the union members in safety committees to evident changes in management’s attitude towards OHS matters. Having visited Kenya’s sugar sector every year for the past four years, the writer can vouch for these achievements. Two words: Workers’ Empowerment. (A report will soon be posted on the IUF sugar site.)

A workshop on Information and Communication Technology and the Internet was developed by the plantation workers union of Uganda (NUPAW-U) from 10-14 May. Three people selected by the union and two invited participants, one from Kenya’s KUSPAW, one from Tanzania’s TPAWU took part in the training. The workshops’ results will be evaluated and used as an input for future IT training under the sugar project.  (See report available at:  (

This issue was written in and sent from Kampala, Uganda.

Africa Sugar Digest is produced thanks to the IUF Global Sugar project in East and Southern Africa. It appears as news becomes available. Contributions are welcome. The IUF African sugar project is supported by the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Auto Workers (SJF-CAW), with contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Labour International Development Program of the Canadian Labour Congress (LIDP-CLC).

Africa Sugar Digest, Vol. I, No 10, May 2010 – click to download –

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