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Nation in Conversation discusses the electricity crisis and sheep industry

  • 15 September 2023
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The Cape region is taking the lead and setting an example to the rest of the country in dealing with the electricity crisis. Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mayor: City of Cape Town, believes that the energy crisis should be handled at provincial level and made no secret about how he feels about Eskom and the current government. “I have zero confidence in Eskom to fix the country's power problems, so we have to rush doing it ourselves. Eskom's supply will even become less over time. We aim to make Cape Town the first loadshedding-free metro.”  

Gary Vorster, producer and solar farmer, explained that farmers need less energy when they irrigate during mornings and evenings. “If Eskom gives us loadshedding during these times, we can adapt, but they should allow us to operate during other times. They need a change of mindset and stop wanting to control everything. We cannot push back excess power into the grid while we are load shedded. As soon as Eskom allows wheeling agreements, the situation can change within months.”
Dr Kandas Cloete from BFAP agreed that wheeling can make a huge difference. “The reason why it is not happening yet, is both a legislation and infrastructure problem. Another challenge is that electricity lines belong to Eskom.”

The second session was about challenges in the sheep industry. Richard Krige, producer and Director at Overberg Agri, said that the demand for sheep has definitely declined. “Lamb has become a niche product. Veterinary services and a shortage of vaccines are also a big concern in the meat industry. Processes to treat diseases are a big inhibitor in South Africa.”
Stephen van Huyssteen, former MD of KLK, highlighted that farmers farm extensively, but are working intensively. “When you look at shelf space available for sheep in retail, it is much smaller than, e.g., beef and pig.”
Dr Phillip Oosthuizen, COO of RMIS, mentioned that traceability within the red meat industry is the best tool and golden thread within the value chain.” We do not have it. We need to strengthen government's hands to help them to get export protocols.”

Ivan Meyer, Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape, feels strong about diseases and biosecurity. “We don't want all kind of diseases. I will not bend backwards for biosecurity. Everyone needs to make sure that strict biosecurity regulatory frameworks are implemented. We will enforce it. You will be stopped and checked. Livestock theft is also a problem. Research is being done. Theft and farm murders for me is economic crime. When your economy is attacked, government needs to intervene.”

The past two days with Nation in Conversation sessions showed that agriculture is very alive in South Africa, and although there are a lot of challenges, South African farmers still attempt to make a plan.
Watch Session 3 and 4 online if you missed it.

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