Agri Northern Cape stressed that Eskom’s continuing trend of rolling power cuts was putting severe strain on farmers’ ability to irrigate crops.

Agri Northern Cape says farmers desperately need more electricity to stave off a disaster in the region’s agricultural food production.

The non-profit organisation stressed that Eskom’s continuing trend of rolling power cuts was putting severe strain on farmers’ ability to irrigate crops, which they stood to lose if they did not receive the necessary volumes of water.

Agri Northern Cape president Nicol Jansen explained that the crops needed about 40 to 50 millimeters of water per week.

He said it was impossible for farmers to meet this demand due to power cuts.

“It’s not possible to apply that amount of water with the limited electricity that we do have, so here’s a huge disaster in the making in terms of the irrigation sector.

“We must remember that 90% of all the fruits and vegetables produced in South Africa are being produced under irrigation.”

Jansen fears the availability of these produce locally and for export will be affected.

“If we can’t get these products on the market, we will create a shortage in terms of food and vegetables, also for the export market – a lot of revenue that will be lost.”

He explained that in the upper region of the Orange River, cash crops, such as maize and soybeans, were at risk, while pecan nuts and vineyards for wine production, export table grapes and dates, as well as crops in the Vaalharts Valley region, were affected.

“The only way to save the situation is we need more electricity, so, therefore, the agricultural sector should be declared an essential service, [just] as the disaster of COVID-19, so that we can get a little bit more electricity and to make sure that we can irrigate what is on the field at this stage.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Premier Zamani Saul to declare the irrigation belt in the region a provincial disaster area.

By: Kevin Brandt

For more information visit: ewn.co.za

 

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