The year is set to begin on a good note for South African farmers after a substantial decrease in petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin prices came into effect at midnight. The announcement of the fuel price relief was made by the department of energy.
The price for 93 and 95 octane petrol decreased by R2.06 per litre while sulphur diesel is now R2.80 per litre cheaper. Unleaded 93 petrol is R21.10 per litre inland and R20.45 per litre in the coastal provinces while 95 unleaded petrol costs R21.40 per litre inland and R20.75 per litre on the coast.
Furthermore, 0.05% sulphur diesel will now set you back R21.23 per litre inland and R20.58 per litre on the coast.
‘A world of difference’
“A decrease in fuel prices is always good news for farmers – even the slightest drop in price is always good. The substantial decrease will make a very big difference,” said agricultural economist Willem van Jaarsveld.
Van Jaarsveld explained that the fuel price relief will not only be felt when transporting produce to markets, but also when transporting inputs around the farm. He hopes the decreased fuel prices will remain constant.
Farmers often also have tanks on their farms which can easily hold up to 10 000 litres of diesel. This means that a drop of as little as R1 in the price comes down to a R10 000 drop in the purchase price for the full tank, said Van Jaarsveld.
“I do hope that the prices stay low and that they get lower during the planting season. We saw a high price increase during the winter [and] during the wheat and canola harvesting season last year. It created a big problem for the farmers.”
Feed price hike
Meanwhile, Kwanda Khumalo, a cattle farmer from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, says the drop in diesel prices will lighten his burden. The continuous rise in fuel prices towards the end of last year placed him at a huge loss.
“We’ve lost a lot because we need diesel to transport cattle and diesel to travel and buy feed from Harrismith which charges us cheaper prices than shops in Ladysmith,” he told Food For Mzansi.
“We transport cattle from the farm to the auction site. We travel about 60 to 70 kilometres to and from the auction site. When I poured diesel at the beginning of the year, I used to pay R 9 500, but around October last year I ended up paying R11 000. We have three trucks, so that was R 33 000 [in total].”
Khumalo said last year’s rising fuel prices also led to an increase in feed prices. He has since resorted to buying cheaper feed, but is in the process of producing his own feed which will cut transportation costs.
He recalled that in previous years, he would sell between 180 to 200 young calves at the end of the year, but because of the expensive diesel prices last year, he only managed to sell 60.
“When the prices increased it meant we also had to adjust. We had to raise the price of the cattle. Customers became less because of that. We transport everything from medicine and food to the cow itself. So, now the customers will get an opportunity to breathe a little bit.”
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