Communal farmers in Limpopo feeling the pinch of higher fuel prices

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More than 36 communal crop farmers at Thabine Irrigation Scheme, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, say they fear losing their income due to the increase in fuel prices. As the country continues to experience fuel increases, emerging farmers are concerned that they might not be able to irrigate their crops.

The farmers use petrol generators to pump water from the nearby Batlhabine River. The 230-hectare farm provides an economic lifeline for local communities.

The farm serves communal farmers from over 10 villages. It produces cabbage, green beans, spinach, and peri peri, that are sold to surrounding communities.

The 70-year-old farm is situated on communal land, under the Nkuna Tribal Authority.

With the increase in fuel prices, the farmers say they might be forced to produce fewer crops as they cannot afford the high price of petrol.

Farmer Brian Mushwana says; “We are using generators to pump water from the river, so because now the fuel is increasing we are going to have a challenge, our quantity will have to go down because we won’t afford to plant on a big scale.”

Another farmer Daniel Gana says; “We are struggling because of the increase of petrol, it’s a big problem, we are using petrol when we are watering our plants, we won’t be able to go further with this farming.”

Thabine Irrigation Scheme Chairperson, Betty Makwala, says they spend more than R1 000 a week on petrol for the generators.

“Every time we want to irrigate, we just pay something like a R1 000 per week, which we don’t have, I will be happy if you guys help us.”

The farm, once funded by the Department of Agriculture to the amount of R18 million, is currently struggling to keep afloat. The petrol price has increased by more than 20 % since the beginning of the year.

The price will increase again by R2.37 per litre on Wednesday, while diesel will increase by R2.30 per litre.

Motorists in general are also concerned the higher fuel prices will have a huge impact on their pockets.

Motorists  concerned by the increase in the price of fuel: