Small poultry farmers are suffering as a result of the rolling blackouts and unplanned power outages. This is forcing farmworkers to work longer hours to make up for lost time, necessitating overtime payments, further eating into their profits.
A poultry farmer, Lebohang Dhludhlu, from Inkanyezi Poultry Farm in Elukwatini, said if load-shedding continues, it means chicken consumers will have to brace themselves for higher prices. “Chicken is by far one of the most affordable meat and source of protein to many low-income South African homes. However, with the current situation in the country, we are almost working at a loss. The community that supports me will have to dig deeper in their pockets if this situation persists. The load-shedding is crippling and as small poultry farmers we are burdened and this could lead to eventual closure of small farms as it would become unsustainable and unprofitable, he said.
Dhludhlu said it is either reduce profits or increase prices. “The situation is unbearable. It increases overall risk and causes more uncertainties. It also affects job creation as we are not doing well, meaning we cannot create prospects for the people of Elukwatini.”
He further explained that the chicken need lights to grow and running a generator is expensive. “I have a generator, but fuel is expensive and the birds need power because they feed regularly. Without lights, they cannot feed and drink. In fact, there will be a loss. I am suffering because I have to channel my profit into buying fuel so that I can sustain the business. We are requesting that the government take action immediately and create a comprehensive plan to address the underlying issues at Eskom and deal with load reduction.”
Because of the situation, egg production is constantly halted. “The incubation of eggs requires power for many hours. If it is stage 6 load-shedding with power gone for more than three hours, the production of eggs will be hampered and it means I will take extra time sorting orders and delivering orders to my customers.”