SA Cane Growers Association has revealed that cane losses as a result of recent heavy rainfall and floods in KwaZulu-Natal stood at R222.9 million.

The Association’s Dr Thomas Funke said that the catastrophic damage comes just as many cane growers had started recovering from the riots and arson attacks that took place in July 2021, which saw 554,000 tons of cane being burnt and R84 million in losses.

By April 19 2022, over 300 cane growers responded to the association’s survey, reporting that 2 516.65 hectares of cane had extensive crop and root damage, which would require the total replanting of the fields to bring them back into production. The situation has been worsened by the washing away of local roads and bridges – the main transport nodes to mills and also the access routes for workers employed on the farms.

The flood damage comes just eight months after rioting and looting last year rocked KZN, one of South Africa’s key sugar-producing provinces, where 554,000 tons of cane, worth R84 million, was damaged in arson attacks. 

The association has requested that government include it in its disaster management plans for KZN. It offers financial and infrastructure relief to affected cane growers to ensure that they replant their cane fields and generate cash flow as they rebuild.

“SA Cane growers remain committed to working closely with the government to ensure critical relief is provided to growers severely impacted by the recent catastrophic events,” the association said.

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