As we sit down to enjoy a warm slice of bread, we often forget about the hardworking farmers who grow the wheat and turn it into flour. But the truth is, these farmers are the backbone of our food system, and without them, we would not have access to the food we rely on.
Unfortunately, AgriSA farmers, like many others in South Africa, are facing a looming disaster that could have a devastating impact on our food supply. Load shedding, the practice of deliberately cutting off power to certain areas to manage demand, is slowly but surely squeezing these farmers out of business. The consequences could be dire, with thousands of people left starving and parents without jobs, transforming South Africa into a poverty state with even more children suffering from malnutrition.
AgriSA CEO Christo Van der Rheede has confirmed the severity of the loss and the impact caused by load shedding to farmers. According to him, the estimated losses of R47 billion in the agriculture sector for the previous year alone are a significant concern. The additional costs of diesel to power generators and increased cold storage diesel expenses during load shedding are a huge burden for farmers, particularly small-scale farmers who may not have the resources to absorb these costs and are forced out of business.
The crops and livestock of AgriSA farmers are also being hit hard by load shedding. Load shedding disrupts irrigation systems, leading to water shortages and affecting the ability of crops to grow and develop properly. For livestock, the lack of electricity can have severe consequences on their health and well-being. If livestock is not properly fed or cared for due to power outages, they may be more exposed to disease or malnutrition, which can affect the quality of their meat or dairy products. As a result, farmers are unable to sell their produce or are forced to sell them at a lower price, which has a devastating effect on their income and ability to reinvest.
Organizations like AgriSA are focused on the new Minister of Electricity and are calling for government officials to take responsibility for the energy crisis and work towards sustainable solutions. Farmers will be hoping that the latest adventure by Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, meeting with senior executives in South Africa telecommunications, will yield the desired results.
As concerned citizens, we must not forget the hardworking farmers who put food on our tables. We must continue to support them and push for sustainable solutions to the energy crisis that is threatening their livelihoods and our food supply. The future of our food system is at stake, and it is up to all of us to ensure that it remains secure and sustainable for generations to come.