Electricity shortage will cost the sugar industry dearly

The sugar industry has warned that it could lose R723 million this year, affecting some 10 000 workers.

It said the losses would be “catastrophic” for the industry. It appealed to government to introduce short-term measures to mitigate the impact of load shedding on farmers, and to postpone any increase in the health promotion levy (sugar tax), which it has said has cost thousands of jobs.

“Load shedding affects 1,135 irrigated growers who employ more than 10,000 workers. An estimated 34% of South Africa’s sugar cane is produced in irrigated areas including Komatipoort and Malelane in Mpumalanga, and Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal”, the SA Canegrowers said in a statement.

Growers were also expected to incur more than R189 million in additional electricity costs, as load shedding forced them to irrigate during high tariff periods.