The Malawi sugar industry is hosting a two day Annual Conference of the Federation of SADC Sugar Producers (FSSP) in Blantyre.
About 150 delegates from the SADC region attended the conference which is organised in rotation by each of the SADC sugar producing countries and offers an important platform for its members and other relevant stakeholders to engage proactively in a dialogue on essential issues for the development and consolidation of the SADC sugar industries and thereby prepare them to overcome future challenges.
Launched in November 2000, the FSSP includes sugar associations and other bodies representing the sugar industry of the SADC member states.
Its objectives are to promote the common interests of sugar industries within SADC in close cooperation with Technical Committee on Sugar (TCS), which was established in accordance with the Sugar Cooperation Agreement (Annex VII of SADC Protocol on Trade), and also to provide a forum for discussion and foster specific programmes of common interests among members.
Opening the ceremony at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on Wednesday, deputy minister of agriculture Ulemu Chilapondwa noted that it is a priviledge to host the meeting in Malawi particularly as the country has assumed SADC chairmanship.
The FSSP 2013 Conference is being held under the theme ‘Sugar Sector – Enhancing the Livelihoods of Rural People’.
“This is in recognition of the fact that the sugar industry is generally a rural based industry which, in collaboration with Governments and other stakeholders, contributes significantly to rural development,” Chilapondwa noted.
This conference is held back-to-back with the SADC Technical Committee on Sugar meetings which will take place after the producers forum from Friday.
Chilapondwa noted that the conference is important because SADC countries currently produce approximately five million tonnes of sugar per annum, which is about three percent of the world’s total production and export two million tonnes, which is equivalent to 40 percent of total production in SADC.
“Many SADC sugar industries have potential for further expansion of their production, it is through banging heads together like this that can be shared for ensuring that expansion happens for the benefit of our countries.”