Experts warn that Eskom’s power cuts could have a disastrous affect on agriculture which could result in food shortages and a spike in food prices.
According to the Sunday Times, CEO of Potato South Africa Andre Jooste said workers in pack houses could not work during load shedding.
This, he said, creates backlogs, which in turn creates problems as produce has a limited shelf life.
“Potatoes must be moved to pack houses as soon as possible after harvest,” he said adding that the inability to do this could affect the volume of potatoes to markets resulting in lower stocks on markets and higher prices.
Tom Turner, a KwaZulu-Natal dairy farmer said “power cuts play havoc with supply, sterilisation processes and the cold chain”.
He said “you cannot turn off cows. They have to be milked two or three times a day.”
A ripple effect on industries
Recent load shedding by Eskom has had a disastrous effect on South Africa’s economy and as reported by News24 last week, the chronic power shortages have cost the steel and engineering sectors R6bn in lost output, an industry body said on Monday.
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa said in a statement that the electricity shortages were damaging South Africa’s reputation as an investment destination and causing “untold harm” to its economy.
News24 however reported on Friday that Eskom’s media desk reported that the risk of load shedding for the rest of December was low.
Spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said things were starting to look up for the power utility.
“There is a low probability of load shedding today. The grid is in good shape and unless something happens, the power will be fine,” he said.
In recent weeks, the utility has battled to keep the lights on since the collapse of one of its coal storage silos, diesel shortages, and maintenance issues. The weekend before last Eskom implemented stage three load shedding.
Stage one allows for up to 1 000MW of the national load to be shed, stage two for up to 2 000MW, and stage three for up to 4 000MW. When load shedding is implemented areas around the country have to take turns to be without electricity to prevent a total collapse of the power grid, until the issues are resolved.