14th Congress Proceedings
Protecting The Privilege Of Burning Sugarcane At Harvest
The South African sugar industry burns 90% of the crop at harvest while 10% is harvested green. The trend to burn cane at harvest has increased over the past twenty years, despite growing pressure from the public and environmental legislation. This paper explores the influence that public pressure and legislation are having on the practise of burning and examines the actions that the industry has implemented in order to protect the privilege of burning sugarcane at harvest. A communication model and case studies are used to illustrate the interaction between the sugar industry, government and public role players over cane burning. Communication has proved to be a key management tool that has had to be dynamic and on going in order to engage the various role players effectively. It is presumed that the advantages of burning outweigh those of trashing and it is for the nuisance rather than the health factor that the public want cane burning banned on farms adjacent to residential or tourist areas. The government, however, regards agricultural burning as a contributory factor to high air pollution levels during the winter months and expects these levels to be reduced. Will the public be able to force change to the current practice of burning cane at harvest in the South African sugar industry or will the steps taken by the industry provide adequate protection? Although favourable outcomes have been achieved, cane burning remains under pressure from the public and government.