Malawi is hosting an annual conference of the Federation of Southern Africa (Sadc) Sugar Producers in Blantyre from Tuesday to Friday.
In a statement signed by Illovo chief executive officer Pat Mitchell and Dwangwa Sugar Cane Growers Trust general manager Wilfred Chakanika the country is hosting the annual forum as a privilege, particularly at this time when Malawi chairs Sadc.
The statement has said the conference is an annual event organised in rotation by each of the Sadc sugar producing countries and offers a platform for its members and relevant stakeholders to engage in a dialogue on essential issues thereby prepare them to overcome future challenges.
Launched in November 2000, the federation includes sugar associations and other bodies representing the sugar industry of Sadc member States.
The conference is being held under the theme ‘Sugar Sector – Enhancing the Livelihoods of Rural People’ in recognition that the sugar industry is generally a rural based industry which, in collaboration with Government and other stakeholders, contributes significantly to rural development.
Chakanika, who chairs the organising task force, added that participants at this conference are from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to statistics provided by the industry, Sadc countries produce approximately five million tonnes of sugar per annum, about three percent of the world’s total production. Sadc however, exports two million tonnes of sugar which is equivalent to 40 percent of Sadc total production.
The statement notes that many Sadc sugar industries have potential for further expansion of their production, and it is hoped that the conference will provide a platform to share ideas for ensuring that expansion happens for the benefit of our countries.