Agri SA Seeks Meeting With Eskom, Warns Load-Shedding May Affect Food Security

With load-shedding escalating as South Africa enters the summer crop planting season, the current energy crisis may have implications for food security in the coming year unless farmers can put measures in place to mitigate against the effects of load-shedding, says Agri SA.
The industry body has requested an urgent engagement with Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on the outlook for load-shedding in the coming weeks.
With reference to Eskom’s announced plan to procure an additional 1 000 MW from existing independent power producers, Agri SA’s farmers need to know what the plan is beyond this initial attempt to stabilise the grid, in order to plan for the season ahead.
With electricity being a key agricultural input, comprising more than 7% of the sector’s expenditure on intermediate goods and services a year, the consequences of load-shedding are far-reaching.
Agri SA says it takes up to an hour to resume irrigation systems when load-shedding ends, costing farmers time and additional labour costs. Power outages also disrupt cooling and packing operations, which has ramifications for food quality and wastewater treatment operations.
A disruption in cold chain protocols is particularly dire for exports, since export markets have strict requirements, and diminishes South Africa’s standing as a reliable food source market.
The greatest threat of load-shedding, Agri SA points out, is to the country’s food security. As crops fail for lack of irrigation or farmers plant less for fear of losses, South Africa will experience food shortages and high prices.
“We trust that the power utility and government will work with us to avert a food certainty crisis in addition to the ongoing power crisis,” Agri SA concludes.