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Agri sector can’t afford cost of load shedding, says Agri Western Cape

Agri Western Cape's Jannie Strydom said horticultural industries were generally energy-intensive, especially with regards to cold chains, for which a stable electricity supply was critical.

Picture: stock.xchng.

CAPE TOWN - The citrus fruit industry could be heavily affected by the latest bout of load shedding.

Agri Western Cape said critical irrigation time had been lost.

Fruit producers' peak irrigation time was largely over, but late varieties and citrus orchards still needed water.

Agri Western Cape's Jannie Strydom said horticultural industries were generally energy-intensive, especially with regards to cold chains, for which a stable electricity supply was critical.

Strydom said load shedding brought enormous cost pressure for producers.

"Agriculture just can’t afford load shedding. Load shedding is causing a lot of damage with warehouses, canning factories, animal feeding preparations, processing plants and farm safety that are under safety as well.

"Let’s use an example for argument sake: suppose 10 large fruit pack stores with cold stores each uses R3,000 of diesel per hour, then they collectively use R30,000 of diesel per hour. Suppose 20 smaller fruit or vegetable packing stores each uses R1,500 of diesel per hour, they use R30,000 of diesel per hour combined. Suppose 60 farms with smaller generators for workshops and offices each uses R300 of diesel per hour, they use R18,000 of diesel per hour combined. Suppose the power is off for one hour, R78,000 worth of diesel is used. Normally the cost of power is 15% of that, thus R11,700 per hour. If the power is off for 10 hours a week during working hours, R780,000 worth of diesel will be used while the cost to Eskom would have been R117,000. Agriculture just can’t afford load shedding," Strydom said.

And if 20 smaller fruit or vegetable packing stores each used R1,500 of diesel per hour, they used R30,000 of diesel per hour combined.