Grape farmers face more challenges amid rolling blackouts

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Table grape farmers in the Lower Orange River region are facing another challenge amid higher stages of rolling blackouts. They say the blackouts are making it difficult for them to maintain the cold chain, a European market requirement.

The farmers are already battling issues like climate change.

Blackouts at stages 4 to 6 mean areas are without power for nearly half of the day.

Table grape farmer Gabriel Viljoen says, “In the cooling chain, we’ve got to maintain a constant temperature and once it reached a cooling chain, it’s going to be taken down to zero degrees celsius, which takes approximately 12 to 20 hours. After that, it’s put into a container which is shipped down to Cape Town. Cape Town at the ports plugged in on electricity, once a vessel is there, gets loaded onto the vessels. The vessels get discharged.”

Viljoen says apart from a smaller harvest, they also have unplanned expenses to cope with.

The Agriculture sector has asked Eskom and government to exempt them from blackouts.

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