The agricultural sector is calling for Eskom to exempt it from rolling blackouts (load shedding) to avoid a disaster. Agricultural union, Agri Northern Cape, has warned that if the blackouts persists, crops will fail which could lead to food shortages and higher prices.
It predicts many farmers will loose their crops or will have to leave the industry. Eskom has implemented intensive rolling blackouts as several provinces experience a heatwave.
A farmer Gerhard Bruwer says he is praying he can save his maize crop. He needs to water his produce regularly. However, the blackouts mean no power and no water for Bruwer’s maize for nearly half a day.
“It is quite a disaster at this moment I have 14 hours a day electricity and 10 hours no electricity its a huge problem. We cannot water land enough for making a good yield. As you can see at the back some of the maize a busy dying its chaos we cannot do anything its a massive problem.”
And the impact will be felt by consumers in a few months’ time.
“As a farmer as a community we can do nothing. Without electricity in this area we have a massive problem. We lose yields that is a problem and also job losses, and food security is a massive problem in our country because we produce a lot of irrigation areas wheat and maize. It’s quite a problem.”
Finding a solution
Expensive renewable energy like solar is not an option for many farmers. Agri Northern Cape says it’s in talks with the Agriculture Department and Eskom to find a solution. Dirk Krapohl from Agri Northern Cape explains:
“The most irrigation equipment are set for 12 million millilittres of water in 24 hours. The different crops have different water need. They need 40 – 70 millilitres per week. They also need 140 hours of electricity per week to supply sufficient water the crops. With 3 load shedding schedule per day the efficiency of water to crops is not enough. The load shedding doesn’t give us enough to supply crops.”
With no immediate end to the intensive rolling blackouts, farmers are praying for Mother Nature to intervene.
Energy Crisis | Agricultural sector wants to be exempt from rolling blackouts: