Power cut wipes out Mooinooi farmer’s harvest

A devastated Rabelani Nemamilwe says his investment and plans to create jobs went down the drain in just two days when a 48-hour power outage prevented him from irrigating his spinach

A heart-breaking before and after: an entire spinach harvest lost in a 48-hour power outage that prevented irrigation. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

A heart-breaking before and after: an entire harvest lost in a 48-hour power outage that prevented irrigation. Photo: Supplied/Rabelani Nemamilwe

A smallholder farmer from Mooinooi, North West, lost his entire spinach harvest due to a recent power cut. He had to lay off six workers as a result.

Rabelani Nemamilwe says that on 17 and 18 November their area was hit by a 48-hour power outage. He lost all his produce worth more than R50 000.

“There was no electricity [and the] power outage meant that we could not irrigate, resulting in the wilting of the spinach. Spinach is sensitive to heat. You need to irrigate it at least four hours a day under drip irrigation.”

The food project he started six months ago, and invested a lot of money into, was well on its way to becoming a spinach-producing hub to the platinum and palladium mining town.

“From the incident that occurred, we lost quite a lot of money. To break it all down, it included land preparation, irrigation, seedlings, fertiliser, pesticides, labour, farm lease rates and electricity.”

A wasteland of wilted spinach. Photo: Supplied/Rabelani Nemamilwe

The heartbreak of job losses

Not only did the incident cost the young farmer hard-earned capital, but Nemamilwe also had to let go of six workers just ahead of the festive season.

“With the current unemployment rate and lack of employment, you can imagine how hard it must have been breaking the news to my employees. It was very difficult, mostly because we are all in trying times and are trying hard to feed our families. Worse, we are approaching the festive season…”

A devastated Nemamilwe says his investment and plans to create jobs went down the drain in just two days. He recently planted a full hectare of spinach with 26 000 units and had big plans for the project. It had the potential to let him harvest 15 000 more bunches until the end of February 2022. It all came to nothing.

“Load shedding is affecting everyone in the industry. We are many that are facing the exact same problem. What is, however, very unfortunate, is that nothing can be done because load shedding is scheduled and has become mandatory.

“This spinach can’t be revived, we lost it and we have accepted the defeat.”

Nemamilwe says his harvest would be given to livestock farmers as feed.

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