Sugar Crop in South Africa Cut 34% as Drought Hits KwaZulu-Natal

Drought in South Africa’s main sugar-producing region of KwaZulu-Natal cut production of the crop by 34 percent, an industry group said.

Farmers sent 17.76 million metric tons of cane for processing in the 2014-15 growing season, down from 21 million tons delivered to mills a year earlier, the South African Cane Growers Association said in a report Thursday.

South Africa is the continent’s biggest producer of sugar cane, the nation’s largest crop by quantity, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. The government declared disaster areas in nine of 11 districts in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province in February. The region produces more than 80 percent of the country’s sugar.

The recoverable value of this year’s crop was 3,438 rand ($252) a ton, an increase of about 9.6 percent from a year earlier, the association said in the report, presented to the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union conference in the city of Pietermaritzburg.

A disaster has been declared in response to a drought in Free State province, South Africa’s biggest corn-growing area, an official from the regional government said Thursday.

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