The impact of Ukraine and Russia on SA agriculture

Free State Agriculture (FSA) is concerned about the impact that a confluence of circumstances may have on food prices and food security in Southern Africa.

Francois Wilken, president of FSA, mentions that various aspects currently have a major impact on agriculture, including:

– The shock rises in crude oil prices pushing diesel upwards to new record prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war – diesel makes up 10% input from conventional maize production.

– ESKOM’s massive dependence on diesel – Large-scale theft of diesel from our national pipeline network polluting our drinking water resources.

– The closure of South Africa’s fuel refineries

– Doubling of imported fertilizer and agricultural chemicals prices.

“All these factors make farmers in the Free State think twice about their capital investments and plant strategy going forward,” says Wilken. “Farmers who have capital available are rather investing in alternative energy to get completely off the ESKOM network due to the total unreliability of ESKOM as well as the above-inflation price increases over the past few years.”

Dr Jack Armour, commercial manager of FSA, also adds that unaffordable input cost increases cause maize to no longer be affordable in the conventional way. “The increasing international demand for maize and sorghum for biofuels could push up prices while crude oil prices remain so high.”

Kempen Nel, FSA management member and irrigation farmer from Jacobsdal, says he is already well advanced with plans to be able to irrigate independently of ESKOM power. “What the war in Ukraine teaches us is that agriculture is difficult to operate without power and diesel. Products cannot be transported for trade and therefore food cannot be taken from the farms to the cities. There is not even access to drinking water and it is becoming a battle for one’s own survival. Energy, water and food security therefore go hand in hand. Farmers must therefore plan to be more adaptable to outside energy and fuel dependence. “Unfortunately, maize production, which is the main source of food for our nation, does not seem to be an attractive option within these uncertainties.”

Die impak van Oekraine en Rusland op SA landbou

Vrystaat Landbou (VL) is bekommerd oor die impak wat ’n sameloop van omstandighede op voedselpryse en voedselsekerheid in Suidelike Afrika mag hê.

Francois Wilken, president van VL, noem dat die verskeie aspekte tans ’n groot impak op landbou het, waaronder:

  • Die skokstygings in ru-olie pryse wat diesel opwaarts druk na nuwe rekord pryse as gevolg van die Rusland-Oekraïne oorlog – diesel maak 10% insette op van konvensionele mielie produksie.
  • ESKOM se massiewe afhanklikheid van diesel – Grootskaalse diefstal van diesel uit ons nasionale pyplynnetwerk wat ons drinkwater-bronne besoedel.
  • Die sluiting van Suid-Afrika se brandstof raffinaderye
  • Verdubbeling van ingevoerde kunsmis en landbou chemikalieë pryse.

“Al dié faktore laat boere in die Vrystaat twee keer dink oor hulle kapitale beleggings en plant strategie vorentoe” sê Wilken. “Boere wat kapitaal beskikbaar het, belê nou eerder in alternatiewe energie om heeltemal van die ESKOM-netwerk af te kom weens die totale onbetroubaarheid van ESKOM asook die bo-inflasie prysverhogings die afgelope paar jaar.”

Dr Jack Armour, kommersiële bestuurder van VL, voeg ook by dat onbekostigbare insetkoste stygings veroorsaak dat mielies nie meer bekostigbaar op die konvensionele manier geproduseer kan word nie. “Die toenemende internasionale vraag na mielies en sorghum vir biobrandstof kan die pryse stuit terwyl ru-olie pryse so hoog bly.”

Kempen Nel, VL bestuurslid en besproeiingsboer van Jacobsdal, sê hy is reeds vêr gevorder met planne om onafhanklik van ESKOM-krag te kan besproei. “Wat die oorlog in die Oekraïne ons leer, is dat landbou moeilik sonder krag en diesel bedryf kan word. Produkte kan nie vervoer word om handel te dryf nie en nie voedsel kan dus nie van die plase na die stede toe geneem word nie. Daar is selfs nie toegang tot drinkwater nie en word dit weliswaar ’n geveg vir eie oorlewing. Energie, water en voedselsekerheid loop dus hand in hand. Boere moet dus beplan om meer aanpasbaar te wees teen buite energie en brandstof afhanklikheid. Ongelukkig lyk mielieproduksie, wat die hoof voedselbron van ons nasie is, nie na ’n aantreklike opsie binne hierdie onsekerhede nie.”