Cargo shedding is a threat to food safety – Agri SA

Agri SA says it has requested an urgent meeting with Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter to discuss the prospects for load reduction in the country, ahead of the summer crop planting season.

The federation of agricultural organizations says it fears that the current state of the country’s energy supply – if it continues at this level – will have harsh implications for local food production and could even jeopardize export deals.

“The biggest threat of cargo shedding is to the country’s food security, as crops fail due to lack of irrigation or farmers plant less for fear of losses,” Agri SA said in a statement.

“The country will only suffer the consequences of reducing the load in the future, as the expected produce from this summer’s harvest will not materialize. The result will be food shortages and high prices ”.

Agri SA acknowledged Eskom’s efforts to stabilize the grid through the launch of its power purchase program earlier this week, which aims to procure 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power from independent producers and neighboring countries.

However, the industry says it needs a more detailed long-term plan to help it plan for the upcoming season.

cost implications

In addition, Agri SA says that load shedding has had a significant impact on farmers’ productivity, with most farmers forced to work fewer hours and invest more to cover additional labor costs.

“Blackouts also disrupt cooling and packaging with ramifications for food quality and pose a health hazard to both humans and animals as they disrupt access to clean water for consumption and block the Wastewater Treatment”.

The best part of the past couple of weeks has seen the country fight phase 6 and now phase 5 of load-lightening. This is because the state-owned power producer has reported several generation unit failures at various power plants.

The latest load shedding period saw families and businesses having to go six to ten hours without electricity.

For many companies this has led to a greater reliance on diesel generators, leading to skyrocketing operating costs in most cases.

“Electricity is a key input for agriculture. According to statistics from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), the agricultural sector spent about 9 billion rupees on electricity in 2021, “Agri SA said.

“This is more than 7% of the sector’s spending on intermediate goods and services. Reliable power is especially critical for the industry’s irrigation and water treatment. ”

Agri SA also warns that load shedding means bad news for the industry’s international relations, as persistent power outages interfere with cold chain protocols imposed by foreign markets and can lead to delays in shipments.

“These results will reduce South Africa’s position as a reliable source market,” adds Agri SA.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission.
Read the original article here.

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