17 October 2019
“Free State Agriculture (FSA) expresses its serious concern about the latest wave of load shedding, as this has, among other things, major negative effects on food security. We also call on the government to make the problem a first priority and to address it as soon as possible.” This is according to Francois Wilken, President of FSA, after load shedding was re-introduced across South Africa.
He believes farmers and suppliers remain on the losing side and load shedding could have “catastrophic consequences for food production and the agricultural sector.” Eskom began implementing Phase 2 load shedding on 16 October 2019 and it continued on 17 October 2019.
According to Wilken wheat is for example at a very sensitive stage when it comes to pollination. “Farmers who spray crops are now exposed to load shedding twice a day and this has a potential negative impact on the optimal growth of their crops, especially in the current hot conditions prevailing in large parts of the country.”
Wilken says FSA urges the government to refrain from political populism. It should rather ensure that, in light of the enormous problems Eskom is experiencing with power generation, a more moderate approach to independent power suppliers is being followed.
“These suppliers should also be allowed to put the necessary electricity back into the power grid and in this way problems can be addressed.” According to him the current processes that need to be followed in order to achieve this seem to be too complicated.
“The economic conditions in the country are causing all producers to be negatively affected. Regardless of whether load shedding occurs or not, infrastructure costs are still being charged. No matter if power is provided or not.”
Wilken also says the severe drought, which continues in many parts of the country, also contributes to negative sentiment.