Load shedding in January came at an extremely inconvenient time for deciduous fruit producers, with harvesting, packing and cold store operations currently reaching a seasonal peak.
Hortgro’s executive director, Anton Rabe, says: “Farms and packhouses had to make adjustments such as the use of emergency power and contingency plans, which are obviously expensive and increase cost structures. It is important that load shedding schedules are maintained and that power does not go down unexpectedly. ”
Rabe further said that agriculture also requests that Eskom “save” rural power lines during the day and instead, apply load shedding at night. “Eskom endangers the economy and people’s ability to lead a meaningful existence. It’s time for the private sector’s handbrake to be released to seize opportunities for private power generation, especially green power. For this, the state’s delay in changing the policy must be addressed.”
Jannie Strydom from Agri Western Cape said load shedding puts great pressure on the entire economy, but especially now during harvest time.
AWC has already had several discussions with Eskom management regarding the exchange of load shedding schedules to protect fruit areas from power outages. According to Eskom, the grid assembly is of such a nature that certain parts cannot be excluded, said Strydom.
“We will continue our load shedding discussions with Eskom, as well as the incorporation of alternative power sources and the whole concept of ‘wheeling’ that urgently needs to be implemented.”
In the Langkloof, some fruit producers were hit twice as hard with load shedding, as they are battling a serious drought. Without power, farmers cannot pump water for irrigation. Farmers can only draw water at specific times, when it occurs along with load shedding, that water allocation is lost.