Sugarcane or sugar cane, are several species of tall perennial true grasses of the genus Saccharum and used for sugar production. It has stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in the sugar sucrose, which accumulates in the stalk internodes. Sugarcane is a renewable resource that does not have to be replanted to produce a new crop this is because when it is ready for harvest the tops are removed leaving the base stalks behind so they can grow into the next crop.
The sucrose is extracted and purified in specialised mill factories and is used as raw material in the food industry. Sugarcane is the world's largest crop by production quantity.
In South Africa the demand for sugar is the primary driver of sugarcane agriculture.
Of the roughly 50 000 sugarcane growers in South Africa around 48 000 are small scale, this is a sector a small farmer can get into providing you are in the right location.
Where to farm sugarcane
Sugar cane in South Africa is grown in 14 cane-producing areas extending from Northern Pondoland in the Eastern Cape Province through the coastal belt and KwaZulu-Natal midlands to the Mpumalanga lowveld. Of the 430 000 ha currently under sugar cane, about 68 % is grown within 30 km of the coast and 17 % in the high rainfall areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
Where to sell sugarcane
Sugar cane is milled in 14 sugar mills situated in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. There are six sugar milling companies in South Africa:
The UCL Company