News / South Africa / Local News

Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
20 Oct 2021
12:06 pm

KZN sugarcane growers get R85 million IDC lifeline after looting chaos

Citizen Reporter

Almost one third of the 500,000 tonnes of cane burnt in the July violence belonged to small-scale farmers.

Picture for illustration only: iStock

Sugarcane growers in KwaZulu-Natal have been given a multimillion-rand lifeline, thanks to confirmation of financial assistance to be provided by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) following devastating looting and violence in July. 

The IDC confirmed it would be providing R85 million in relief to 192 growers affected by the violence.

The violent demonstrations, which broke out in KZN and parts of Gauteng, cost sugarcane growers more than R84 million in revenue when whole fields were burnt, the SA Canegrowers Association said. 

An estimated 500,000 tonnes of cane was burnt in arson attacks associated with the unrest, with over 135,000 tonnes of damaged sugarcane rejected by mills. 

ALSO READ: SA unrest: Aftermath threatens thousands of sugar industry jobs

Almost one third of the 500,000 tonnes of sugarcane belonged to small-scale farmers, who until recently had no way of recovering financially from the losses. 

These growers often do not have any insurance either, and were deemed ineligible for payments from the South African Special Risk Insurance Association. 

How the IDC will distribute the money 

Growers who suffered R1 million or less in damages will receive grants. Those who have suffered damages amounting to more than R1 million will receive loans of more than R1 million. 

SA Canegrowers Association chairman Andrew Russell said in a statement that granting grants rather than loans, especially to small-scale growers, was “invaluable”. 

Growers will not be charged any fees, to make sure that funds go where they are most needed – to farms and rural communities dependent on them. 

Russell said the SA Canegrowers Association had worked closely with the IDC over the past few months, to identify the growers impacted by the riots, and to calculate subsequent revenue losses. 

Growers are under increased pressure, with severe droughts gripping many provinces further pushing the industry to the edge, as well as sugar tax. 

Compiled by Nica Richards