Chairman of the Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi (SUGAM), Mr. Frighton Njolomole, has appealed to government of Malawi to expedite the process of passing the draft sugar bill into law. The call was made during the prize giving ceremony for the cane cutting and farmers competition which was held at Chitowe Stadium in Nkhotakota on 24th August 2017. The chairman pointed out that “for a long time sugarcane production has been conducted without any legislation. The sugar bill was drafted with support from United Purpose and it is still being reviewed. I want to appeal for your support that this draft bill is passed into law. The presence of this law will go a long way to ensure that there is transparency and accountability and sanity in the production, processing and selling of all sugarcane products.”
According to Njolomole another challenge affecting small-scale sugarcane farmers is the issue of withholding tax. He said “farmers are being charged withholding tax even on the small revenue which they earn from sugarcane proceeds.” He therefore asked government to consider removing withholding tax on sugarcane proceeds which Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) charges after the smallscale farmers have supplied their cane to Illovo factory for processing into sugar so that the farmers should have something to take home.
Speaking during the same function The Project Manager at United Purpose Mr Humphrey Nxumalo said that his organization is pleased with the support it received from various stakeholders including the farmer organizations that contributed in cash or kind towards the competition. He said the competitions have made significant impact in the sugarcane industry in Malawi since it was introduced last year. He said “the competition is likely to increase sugarcane production if cane cutters make use of the skills which they learn from their friends.”
During the function, government was represented by The Agriculture Manager for Salima Agriculture Development Division. Other key participants included delegates from Illovo Sugar Limited, Ethanol Company Limited, Dwangwa Cane Growers Limited, Dwangwa Cane Growers Trust, Traditional Leaders, and District Agriculture Office.
During the competition, 28 cane cutters from Dwangwa and Nchalo who included women and people with disabilities participated in the competition. The winner of the cane cutters went away with a motorbike, a best farmer went away with a motorbike, the best performing cane cutting contractor went away with a desk top computer and printer and the best farmer organization went away with a motorbike and a bookshelf. Other winners and participants of the competition received various prizes ranging from fridge, printers, bicycles, bookshelves, mattresses, bags of fertilizer, and solar lamps. The competitors were cane cutters, cane cutting contractors, farmers and farmer institutions and they were drawn from different companies and associations.
The cane cutting and farmers competition was organized by SUGAM with technical support from United Purpose and financial support from European Union and SOLIDARIDAD through National Authorizing Office under the theme “promoting best practices in sugarcane production.”