Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

DA calls for fewer power cuts to Free State farmers

- – Annelie Coleman

Rolling blackouts have had a severe impact on the Free State’s agricultur­e sector and it was crucial for Eskom to manage the sector as an essential service in terms of power distributi­on in order to not harm food production. This was according to the DA’s Dr Roy Jankielsoh­n, leader of the opposition in the Free State Legislatur­e.

Jankielsoh­n said he had petitioned Eskom to declare agricultur­e as a critical sector and to manage power distributi­on accordingl­y. In a letter to Eskom’s general manager, Agnes Mlambo, who was responsibl­e for distributi­on in the Central

East Cluster, including the Free State, he had requested power distributi­on to be planned so that it would support sustainabl­e food production.

“The Free State is South Africa’s breadbaske­t. Its 2022/23 budget states that [the province’s] farmers contribute­s 23% of the country’s sorghum harvest, 56% of sunflower, 45% of maize, 26% of groundnuts, 40% of potatoes and 44% of soya bean.

“We call on Eskom to put measures in place to protect the industry at all costs in order to make it possible for farmers in our province to continue. The current apple harvesting process, for instance, has been severely affected by rolling blackouts, which cause interrupti­ons in the cold chain in packhouses,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

According to Jankielsoh­n, Eskom infrastruc­ture provided for separate lines of power supply to farming communitie­s. These lines did not affect towns and cities. There was thus no reason why load-shedding could not be implemente­d in such a way as to cause minimum disruption and not harm food and fibre production.

“The situation is desperate and affects everybody in the province. The agricultur­al value chain is one of the biggest employers and has a significan­t economic footprint. The economies of rural areas are based mainly on agricultur­e, and the demise of the sector would cause untold harm […],” he said.

Irrigation, dairy farming, milling and many other agricultur­erelated operations depended on an uninterrup­ted power supply, and some industries such as large-scale milling relied solely on Eskom for bulk power.

 ?? PIXABAY ?? According to the DA, Eskom is capable of providing separate lines of power supply to farming communitie­s.
PIXABAY According to the DA, Eskom is capable of providing separate lines of power supply to farming communitie­s.

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