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Call on government to exempt farmers from load shedding


A commercial farmers union is calling on the government to exempt farmers from load shedding as the latest extended stages wreak havoc on the agriculture sector.

Picture: JCFUL Pixabay

THE Transvaal Agricultural Union (TLU SA) is calling on government to exempt farmers from load shedding as the latest extended stages wreak havoc on farming operations, pushing food security to the edge of a precipice.

In a statement ahead of a meeting with Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza, where various parties will discuss the current energy crisis, TLU SA said government should consider agriculture an essential service – where no load shedding is applied – for the sake of the country’s food security.

It said cold chain network farmers and those dependent on irrigation should be released from load shedding, or have load shedding applied outside of peak times.

“The government has to realise that the current energy crisis puts food security in question. This is something no country can afford,” TLU SA general manager Bennie van Zyl said.

Producers of cold chain products (temperature regulated) could not guarantee shelf life as it was. Farmers who used irrigation could not sustainably produce with diesel, and some potato farmers had to stop production because they could not irrigate when necessary.

“Farmers had huge input costs after the president’s promise that the electricity situation will improve, with already established crops that will now desiccate. Not only do crop farmers suffer from this, but also winter crops and lucerne, which will [result in] animals not surviving the winter,” Van Zyl said.

He said the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa) recent announcement of an 18.65% increase in electricity as from April 1 meant more pressure on agriculture on top of load shedding and load reduction.

“Even the largest farmers are now facing irreversible losses. This definitely fortifies the arguments and requests we are submitting to the minister today. Eskom is an excellent example of an institution, as a result of transformation, that harms the economy and the image foreign countries have of South Africa.” he said.

The TLU SA said farmers had to register for irrigation water according to estimates that could not happen now due to load shedding, but the amount of water registered could not be reduced.

The organisation said this was because a farmer, when he wanted to irrigate at full capacity again, needed to register all over again, with an environmental impact study costing more than R100,000 together with administrative red tape.

“We have reached a point in South Africa where responsible, active citizens realise that we are left to one’s own resources, and to look at and implement alternative solutions,” Van Zyl said.


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