KCG is a smallholder sugar cane project that was set up in 1996 as part of a joint venture with the Malawian government and a nearby sugar mill, now operated by Illovo Sugar, Africa’s biggest sugar producer. An area of largely unproductive land was converted to sugar cane production to increase the supply of raw cane to the mill while providing an income for 762 subsistence farmers. The initiative now also provides employment for more than 800 permanent and seasonal field workers.
KCG was Fairtrade certified in 2002 and now sells its entire production of around 8,000 tonnes of sugar to Fairtrade buyers (including Divine chocolate). KCG negotiates a contract price with Illovo mill for its sugar cane and is paid an additional Fairtrade Premium of $60 for each tonne of processed cane sugar. The Fairtrade Premium has been invested in improving sugar cane productivity and in healthcare, clean water, education and other community projects.
Changing weather patterns, unpredictable rainfalls, higher than average temperatures and low market sugar prices are challenges that members of the Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association face. In particular, heavy flooding in 2015 and 2017 severely affected the farmers’ yields, household property and livestock.