ZAMBIA Sugar Company managing director Rebecca Katowa says the European Union reforms are impacting negatively on sugar business in the SADC region.
And Katowa says load-shedding will affect the yields in the sugar industry as power is needed for irrigation.
In an interview ahead of the 15th Federation of SADC Sugar Producers (FSSD) annual conference at the David Livingstone Lodge and Spa in Livingstone, Katowa said some of the challenges being faced by sugar producers were the volatility of the currencies in the SADC region.
“SADC sugar producers have a quarter-free tariff into the European market but with the sugar reforms that have taken place in the EU, prices have collapsed and the prices that we can get out there are no longer remunerative or sustainable in terms of costs of production; that is the big challenge that we are facing right now and it’s affecting the whole region in terms of the sugar producers,” Katowa said.
She said some of the issues to be discussed at the conference include how the producers could make sugar production sustainable.
Katowa added that other areas of concern include the type of cane being grown, cane diseases and pests and water.
“We will also look at how to improve the competitiveness of these industries and make sure that the industry gains resilience when faced with these global shocks that affect business in general. We will also look at how to protect the industry in the continent from the global sugar surpluses that are out there…. We will also look at the volatility of currencies, which is one of the major challenges affecting the sugar producing industries as you know exchange rates are fluctuating within the whole of SADC. The Euro, dollar exchange rate does impact on the industries and we also have challenges of water,” Katowa said.
Katowa said eight countries would attend the conference.