SOUTH AFRICA – The South African National Seed Organisation (Sansor), has warned farmers of a finite availability of seeds for the season, following load shedding and erratic electricity supply that has continued to hurt industries in South Africa.
Sansor, a member of the International Seed Federation and African Seed Trade Association is mandated to represent members on various platforms in the international seed industry.
Ironically, South Africa has suffered power supply distress since 2007 due to the country’s failure to build new power stations to keep up with economic growth and replace aging generation plants leading to scheduled load-shedding.
“The prevailing power cuts have a major impact on the seed sector. It impacts not only on commercial production of crops but the supply side, especially seed production, ” said Dr. Magdeleen Cilliers, Sansor’s policy and research manager in an interview with local media.
According to the seed company, South Africa urgently needs a solution to the energy crisis, not only for businesses to keep afloat but also for employment and food security.
Dr. Magdeleen lamented that companies have remained with no option but to invest in costly solar and other alternative energy sources to keep the business running and to ensure the supply of seed.
She adds that the implications affect the customers who are locals since the cost of these actions is not only reflected in seed prices but will, ultimately, have an impact on consumer food prices which the country is already battling.
Similarly, the company said that the whole agricultural production sector suffers from the impacts of load shedding and erratic electricity supply.
Notably, the local agricultural season started well during last year’s planting period, for many crops, but the current heat has affected irrigation, which could knock the yield at the end of the season.
Comparably, several other industry players in the agricultural space are also calling for the government and Eskom’s intervention in load shedding, including the Agricultural Business Chamber and SA Canegrowers.
Sansor said that Unless these challenges are addressed, the country’s agricultural sector won’t achieve the growth and job creation prospects it’s capable of.
Coupled with elevated input costs which have knocked farmers’ financials with prices for fertilizer, herbicides, and insecticides by 50% during the past two planting seasons, Sansor laments challenging days ahead.
Dr. Magdeleen added that the risk of weak economic growth globally with a high probability of unpalatable levels of inflation could have devastating implications for South Africa’s food industry as well as imports and exports.
This she commented according to the baseline of the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy Agricultural Outlook for 2022 to 2031.