The sharp rise in the fuel price that will come into effect at midnight on Tuesday will have a negative impact on the agricultural sector.

Grain farmers are now busy preparing the land for this year’s planting season for summer grains, leading to an increase in diesel consumption.

Diesel is now the second most expensive input cost for grain farmers after fertiliser. In a country where maize is a staple food, the rise in diesel will also have a negative effect on poor communities.

The price hike in diesel coincides with the planting season in one of South Africa’s main summer crop provinces, the Free State. Grain farmers will soon start to prepare the soil for summer grains, especially maize.

Grain farmers have been facing a decline in profits every year. Grain SA Economist Corne Louw says the diesel price will be 29 percent more than the same period last year.

“This time of the year is the highest usage of diesel because they start preparing the soil and they start to plant from the 15 October. So this higher diesel price will definitely have a huge impact on their production costs and also their profitability.”

Free State Grain farmer, Lourens Schlebusch, says the rise in the price of diesel is detrimental to his farming business.

“I made a calculation this (Tuesday) morning and I use 70 litres per hectare per year on my farm and just this increase this week will eliminate a R100 of profit. Last year I made R250 profit. This halves my profit in one increase.”

Bakkies, cars, motorcycles and trucks were seen lining up in the city from early Tuesday morning to fill up the tanks.

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