POTATO COST SQUEEZE to con­tinue in 2019

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

The real mar­ket price of pota­toes has been flat in re­cent years, while real pro­duc­tion costs are ris­ing. The pro­duc­tion cost squeeze will there­fore con­tinue in 2019, ac­cord­ing to Dr An­dré Jooste, CEO of Pota­toes South Africa (PSA).

The area planted to pota­toes would prob­a­bly not change much for the 2019 har­vest, he said.

“Since 2015, na­tional plant­ings have var­ied be­tween 52 000ha and 54 000ha. Last year 53 000ha of pota­toes were planted, which is about 2% more than the 2017 plant­ings. Al­though an­nual plant­ings fluc­tu­ate, it is cli­matic con­di­tions that de­ter­mine the size of the na­tional crop,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Jooste, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the na­tional min­i­mum wage re­sulted in a sharp in­crease in labour costs.

SPO­RADIC RAIN MAKES PRO­DUC­TION MORE DIF­FI­CULT

Cou­pled with an ex­pected 19% in­crease in elec­tric­ity tar­iffs, pro­duc­tion costs would rise even more in 2019. “How­ever, the in­crease in potato pro­duc­tion vol­umes since 2017 is still a sign that pro­duc­ers are do­ing the right things to im­prove sus­tain­abil­ity.”

Theo Fer­reira, a potato pro­ducer near Har­ri­smith, said pro­duc­tion con­di­tions had been very tough in 2018 as he had re­ceived very lit­tle rain­fall. The rain had also oc­curred spo­rad­i­cally, which made sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion even more dif­fi­cult. At a dry­land yield of be­tween 20t/ha and 22t/ha, pro­duc­ers would have to re­alise a price of be­tween R45 and R50 for a 10kg pocket of pota­toes in 2019, he said. – An­nelie Cole­man

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