African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6849

Full Length Research Paper

Challenges faced by small scale sugarcane growers: An exploration of the impact of social unrest on sugarcane farming in Kwazulu-Natal

Simphiwe Promise Buthelezi
  • Simphiwe Promise Buthelezi
  • Department of Research and Development, Moses Kotane Institute, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Londeka Nxumalo
  • Londeka Nxumalo
  • Department of Research and Development, Moses Kotane Institute, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Xolani Terrance Ngema
  • Xolani Terrance Ngema
  • Department of Research and Development, Moses Kotane Institute, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 10 October 2022
  •  Accepted: 27 July 2023
  •  Published: 30 April 2024

Abstract

The South African sugar industry is considered by the South African Sugar Association (SASA) as one of the world’s leading cost competitive producers of high-quality sugar and contributes significantly to the national economy, sustainable development and creates mass employment in rural areas.  However, numerous challenges are faced by small scale sugarcane growers which drastically affect their profit margins and long-term sustainability of sugarcane production in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).  Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine various challenges faced by sugarcane farmers in KZN. Data was collected from 83 Small-Scale Sugarcane Growers (SSGs) in eight KZN districts, using an online survey questionnaire. The findings of this study indicated that SSGs face numerous challenges ranging from inequality, land issues, financial and technical problems, drought; access to market; productivity; lack of high performing varieties, transport issues, climate change, and alien invasive plants or weeds. All the SSGs that participated in this study indicated that they need financial support to expand their operations. In addition to financial support, they desperately need partnerships or shareholding, marketing skills, education/ farming skills, skilled workforce, feasibility/ business plan, access to markets, and transport and logistic. Addressing these challenges will ensure the sustainability and profitability of sugarcane industry.

Key words: Sugarcane, small-scale growers, unrest, looting, sustainability.