WC farmers worried about impact of power cuts on this season's crop harvest
According to a November report by a state scientists' group, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africans have had over 1,900 hours of power cuts in 2022 alone, making it the most 'load shedding-intensive' year.
CAPE TOWN - Some farmers in the Western Cape said that they were worried about how badly the ongoing power cuts would impact on this season's crop harvest.
It has been at least 15 years of Eskom troubles for South Africans.
According to a November report by a state scientists' group, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africans have had over 1,900 hours of power cuts in 2022 alone, making it the most "load shedding-intensive" year.
At the same time, Eskom warned, that prolonged power cuts would continue over the next few months.
Provincial Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer stressed that it was critical that farmers were supplied with electricity regularly.
“This problem is rather big in South Africa but also here in the Western Cape because about 80% of our farmers and producers are receiving their electricity supply directly from Eskom and about 20% receive it from municipality. So, this problem is really deep.”
Meyer said it was a critical period, as harvest season began in November and would run until the end of March 2023.
“It costs between R500,000 to R1 million to put alternative energy in place and that will, obviously, increase your production cost on your farm and, certainly, many farmers can simply not afford to have that, especially small and medium-scale farmers.”
Meyer explained that a predictable electricity supply was crucial for irrigation, as well as the operation of pack houses and cold storage facilities.
“The problem is big in the Western Cape because we are responsible for 55% of South Africa’s primary agricultural exports. So, this problem is big, and we need to engage with Eskom about this problem.”
Meyer said that many farmers were making alternative energy plans, but this came at high costs, which farmers could not afford.
"We have about 7,000 commercial farmers and about 9,000 small-scale farmers. It is simply unaffordable. That’s why we are asking Eskom to give us some relief, particularly Matzikama, Witzenberg, Drakenstein, Stellenbosch, Breede Valley, Langeberg, Theewaterskloof, because these are the high-production agriculture areas for this period."