Agriculture should be an essential service, says AgriSA

South Africa’s agriculture sector is suffering, hit by rapidly rising input costs and failing infrastructure, most notably the country’s electricity utility Eskom.

Appealing for agriculture to be declared an essential service, the industry said in a statement that agriculture had lost R23 billion in nine months last year. It said that, without urgent action and relief measures from the government and Eskom, consumers would face higher prices.

It called for agriculture to be exempt from the higher levels of rotational power cuts (load shedding) which South Africa has endured every day this year. It also wants other relief measures, such as higher rebates on the petrol and diesel that farmers are using to generate their own electricity supply.

A large beef producer has added its voice to calls for action to mitigate the impact of the daily power cuts. Beefmaster’s Roelie van Reenen said farmers were being hammered by collapsed or collapsing infrastructure, which had become “a full-scale crisis” threatening food security.

Like other agricultural spokespeople, he said the result of prolonged load shedding would be food shortages and price hikes.