Parliament must step in and act on load shedding in the agriculture sector

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
19 Jan 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

The DA has written to the Chairperson on the Portfolio of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Hon Zwelivelile Mandela, to request that he invites Minister Thoko Didiza, Department senior officials and Eskom management to come and brief the committee on measures that they have put in place to shield the fragile agricultural sector from load shedding.

Media reports are replete with stories of how load shedding and rising temperatures have started to severely affect agricultural value chains across the country, from farms, agricultural produce storage facilities to transportation.

Recently we learned that poultry farmers are losing tens of thousands of chickens due to disruptions by load shedding to the value chain. Crops are dying because farmers cannot spray and abattoirs are seeing fewer throughputs as a results of low demand for meat.

Areas such as the Western Cape, which are in harvesting season, face challenges of cooling facilities and pack houses which could render their harvest unsuitable for the market. Eskom must? apply exclusionary measures to allow farmers to finish complete their production cycle.

The DA supports the call made by farmers that the government step in urgently and provide relief to the chicken houses, cooling facilities and irrigation schemes. It is unacceptable that to date, DALRRD has no plan to address the impact of load shedding in the agricultural sector.

The lack of leadership at national level notwithstanding, the DA welcomes the initiative taken by the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, inviting the agriculture sector in the Western Cape to discuss a 10 point plan action step solution to realise a localised implementation to address the load-shedding challenges.

Farmers have sent pleas for help and it is important that Parliament steps in to provide leadership on this growing crisis. It is time that Eskom and the Minister are made to account to the nation on their plans to avert a potential food crisis.