Rolling blackouts could cost cane farmers millions

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The South African Canegrowers Association has raised concerns that Eskom’s continuous implementation of rolling blackouts could cost the industry over R723 million this year.

It estimates that should high stages of power cuts, such as Stages 6 to 8, be imposed regularly, it could eventually cost growers over R1.8 billion.

The Association’s Chairperson Andrew Russell says farmers are unable to irrigate their crops.

“It’s made up of concerns of blocked growth because farmers are unable to irrigate their crops. We have over 1000 farmers who irrigate their sugar cane in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga and they are unable to do so, so the crops don’t grow properly.”

“In addition to that, they incur additional energy costs because of the disruption of their irrigation schedules by the blackouts. They are not able to take advantage of the tariff system which allows them to pay a lower tariff when they operate during low-demand times. But with the blackouts, they are forced to irrigate whenever they can and as a result are incurring these increased input costs,” says Russell.

Rolling blackouts pose threat to food security: