Food security compromised by rolling blackouts, say agricultural associations

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Agricultural associations are warning that the ongoing energy crisis could have a detrimental impact on food security. The impacts of load shedding are expected to be even worse for emerging farmers producing poultry, irrigated crops, milk and fruit for export.

The agricultural value chain is under severe stress as load shedding has led to major losses. Jan-Hendrik Horn, who is a poultry farmer says they are feeling the brunt of the energy crisis.

“The load shedding is very hard on poultry farmers. Fuel prices going up. We are using a lot of diesel, 3 500 litres in the last two months now, that’s about R70 000. Eskom amounts don’t go down. It’s still high. They pay almost the same amount. So it’s hard,” says Horn.

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Derrick Matthews from Grain SA says irrigation farmers have also not been spared.

“When we are busy planting when everything is running, I am using about 4 000-5000 litres of diesel a day,” says Horn.

The African Farmers Association of South Africa says the worst is still to come.

“There are time zones, timelines that have to be observed if there is slaughtering that needs to take place in 60 days it must take place. Otherwise not meeting those timelines will inevitably lead to farmers having to pay more for feed. Suppliers are not getting what they are supposed to get. It’s a whole value chain that affects the economy in the end. Just look at how recently your chicken outlets like Nandos, and your KFC have been battling to meet the demand during the festive season,” says CEO of AFASA, Thandeka Mbassa.

This is expected to spill over into possible higher inflation and threaten food security.

Food prices likely to remain high over the next three months: