Briefing Paper

The Southern African Sugar Sector

“The sugar industry has the potential to play a key developmental role in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
region. The SADC bloc accounts for approximately 54% of total African sugar production. Beyond its economic importance
and success in the region, the sugar industry ticks many of the boxes of the most difficult development challenges: playing to comparative advantages; diversification (energy and bio-chemicals); benefiting small nations; and employing many workers,
including low-skilled workers and those in rural areas. But like many other agricultural sectors, sugar policy faces diverse, often opposing pressures from various actors. These range from the need for open supply to
facilitate food security, a desire to balance the welfare benefits of small farming interests with the efficiency of large corporate millers, and the challenge of operating in a highly distorted international market. Sugar’s importance as one of the largest agricultural sectors in the Southern African region has given rise to a great deal of involvement from a multitude of actors.”