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Government to set up task force to monitor effects of load shedding on agricultural sectors – SABC News

The agriculture, food and beverage industries have expressed concern about the threat to food security if power cuts continue at such short notice. This critical concern was shared with the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Toko Didiza.

Minister Didiza met with representatives of these industries to assess the impact of the ongoing power outages on their business operations and plans. Her department has formed a task force to address the sector’s problems.

Red meat industry services were part of the meeting with Minister Didiza and raised the question of how the current lack of energy security is affecting the agricultural sector.

But he says power outages are not the challenge against them. According to the chief executive of Red Meat Industry Services, Dewald Olivier, one of the other problems is the production of cattle vaccines.

“We are already short or behind in vaccine production … some of these diseases can spread to humans.”

Olivier points out that the lack of electricity affects their ability to slaughter animals for human consumption. He says it’s an expensive exercise the industry can’t afford, and yet some small butchers are starting to close.

It warns that the agricultural sector’s contribution to gross domestic product for the second and third quarters will be affected.

In response to these concerns, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development says it will set up a small sector team to monitor the impact of the load shedding on the sector and its ability to ensure food security.

Spokesman Reggie Ngcobo says the possible development of alternative energy sources in the sector is being analysed. “Technical work on measuring financial costs is ongoing and will help inform the sector strategy.

“The task team will also explore short-, medium- and long-term interventions to ease the burden of offloading in the agricultural, food, fiber and beverage value chains,” explains Ngcobo.

In the meantime, the sector must continue food production now even with the coming increases in electricity tariffs and energy uncertainty combined.

Earlier in the week, national energy regulator NERSA granted the power company an 18.65% increase in electricity, which experts warn will negatively affect both households and industries.

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