According to the South African Canegrowers Association’s (SA Canegrowers’) scenario modelling, continuous load shedding between Stages 4 and 6 will cost growers over R723 million in 2023.
This figure soars to over R1,8 billion when power outages are escalated to Stages between 6 and 8.
“Anything beyond Stage 8 could cost the industry more than R2,4 billion,” it adds in a statement issued yesterday.
SA Canegrowers chair Andrew Russell indicates that load shedding affects 1 135 irrigated growers who employ over 10 000 workers.
“Growers are expected to incur more than R189 million in additional energy costs in 2023, on account of the disruption to irrigation schedules,” he adds.
“In addition to the increased cost of energy, growers also face yield losses as they have fewer hours of continuous energy supply. Growers need a minimum of six hours of continuous energy for proper irrigation. As a result of the intermittency of the power supply disrupting irrigation, irrigated growers will lose up to 40 percent water capacity.”
He notes that the resulting loss of yield could cost more than R723 million.
Russell says the continuation of load shedding, without alternative arrangements to enable irrigation, poses other long-term implications for the industry.
“Sugarcane stalks left in the ground can produce cane for up to 10 years. “
Moreover, Russell says considering that sugar refining giant Tongaat Hulett was placed under business rescue in October 2022, along with the anticipated increase in sugar tax in National Treasury’s budget next month, the implications “are potentially catastrophic for growers and industry workers”. — Moneyweb.