Another food price shocker on the cards for South Africa

 ·18 Jan 2023

The price of some staple food groups is expected to rise as load shedding takes its toll on the agricultural sector, says Christo van der Rheede, an executive director at Agri SA.

Speaking to 702, Van der Rheede said that load shedding is having profound knock-on effects for all types of agriculture businesses, including those dealing with livestock and crops. He added that South Africa’s food security might be on the rocks soon if the issue persists.

“If you’re a dairy farmer. You cannot milk your cows. You cannot keep your milk in a cold storage facility when there’s no electricity… The same applies to irrigation farmers that are irrigating grains, maize, sugar cane, also other crops”

“What is important is that farmers are still producing food at a large cap. And that’s the nice thing… The bigger issue is the affordability of food, and we’ve seen a spike in the price of all kinds of basic stuff. That’s why the poultry industry has called on the minister to zero-rate chicken, for example, to make it cheaper.”

Load shedding is also adding to already damaging global impacts, including the war in Ukraine that drove up diesel prices – pushing up operation and transportation costs for the farming industry – and increased the price of fertiliser.

This puts farmers under severe pressure, making agriculture a very unprofitable business, he said.

Van Der Rheede called on the government to support domestic farmers more through tax incentives which could include reducing the price of solar/renewable energy installations on farms.

On 13 January, relevant stakeholders in the farming industry, including those in grain, poultry, dairy and more, held a meeting with the minister of agriculture Thoko Didiza.

In the meeting, stakeholders noted that the non-stop rolling blackouts halted irrigation systems and factory floors.

The poultry industry raised major concerns over the regulation of chicken coops and the fact that they may be unable to slaughter enough – leading to shortages on store shelves.

The warnings have unfortunately become a reality. This Wednesday (18 January), the South African Poultry Association said that there is a lack of chicken products in the country due to the inability to slaughter the animals.

Over 10 million chicks had to be culled over the course of the last six weeks, said the association. It added that if this situation was to continue, consumers could expect the price of chicken to rise.

Read: New year, same old load shedding lie

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