Table grape farmers in the Lower Orange River region are facing another challenge amid higher stages of rolling blackouts. Blackouts at stages 4 to 6 mean areas are without power for nearly half of the day. Growers say the blackouts are making it difficult for them to maintain the cold chain, which is a requirement for EU markets.
Table grape farmer Gabriel Viljoen: “In the cooling chain, we’ve got to maintain a constant temperature and once it reached a cooling chain, it’s going to be taken down to zero degrees Celsius, which takes approximately 12 to 20 hours. After that, it’s put into a container which is shipped down to Cape Town. Cape Town at the ports plugged in on electricity, once a vessel is there, gets loaded onto the vessels. The vessels get discharged.”
The Agriculture sector has asked Eskom and government to exempt them from blackouts.