Eskom cuts to hit potato industry
12:04 (GMT+2), Fri, 07 March 2014
By Stanley Karombo
The potato industry is bracing for severe production disruptions as Eskom warned of power disruptions scheduled for the week of 9 March. This was according to Potatoes South Africa (PSA) CEO André Jooste.
Jooste said erratic power supply in the Western Cape, North West and the Free State could negatively affect the growth of potatoes, as most were produced under pump irrigation.
Irrigation was needed to avoid crop stress, which could cause lower yields and compromise quality.
African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) president, Mike Mlengana, said Eskom’s load shedding also affected emerging farmers who used borehole water for irrigation. Their crops, mainly chilli and maize, could face the threat of withering if the erratic power supply continued.
Eskom has since lifted its fourth power emergency, initially announced on 6 March.
The electricity supplier, however, asked its key industrial customers to reduce their power consumption by 10%. It also called on consumers to urgently switch off all non-essential appliances to prevent the need for rotational load shedding.