Assistance to ailing sugar industry in South Africa delayed due to Covid-19

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The South African Government’s plan to extend support to the ailing sugar industry is on a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. The farmers were facing a financial crisis before the Covid-19 attack due to severe floods and the low demand of sweetener.
According to reports, President Cyril Ramaphosa on February 13 stated that the Government is on a verge to declare the Sugar Master plan in six weeks. However the coronavirus impacted the country and lockdown was announced on March 27 which delayed the assistance to the sugar sector.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition that was asked to look after the sugar sector is currently occupied in Covid-19 issues. Rex Talmage, Chairman of the South African Cane growers association said, “Minister Ebrahim Patel is busy in handling issues related to Covid-19 and has no time in signing the Sugar Industry Master Plan but expects that he will act on it soon.”
Majority of Eastern part of South Africa produces sugarcane that provides jobs to around 85,000 persons. The government’s decision to impose tax on Sugary beverages in 2018 led to the losses of 3.6 billion rand and has reduced employment in the sugar sector.

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