Readers: ‘Nothing festive about the fuel price’

“This is a real struggle for farmers," says farmer John Chirwa. "We are working for suppliers and buying feed for our livestock. There is really no return on investment in our businesses”

Mzansi farmers and motorists suspect that the petrol prices will dampen the festive spirit a little. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Mzansi farmers and motorists suspect that the petrol price will dampen the festive spirit. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The record-high December fuel price has been dominating headlines this week. Then came the news that the department of mineral resources and energy had made a calculation error, leaving some motorists 6c/litre too much out of pocket on Wednesday. But what do Food For Mzansi readers have to say about the ever rising cost of fuel?

Most agree that the drastic price hike of 75c (after the calculation correction) comes at a time when many households are struggling to make ends meet. 

Omphile Ramotsho from Johannesburg expects the fuel hike to have a major impact on taxi and bus travelers. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Omphile Ramotsho a commuter in Johannesburg, says the continuous increase in the petrol price might lead to public transport such as taxis and buses increasing their fees as well. 

“We are really living in trying times now. We should not even be surprised when taxis increase their fee; it will be justified,” she says. 

Food for Mzansi caught up with farmers and ordinary South Africans on the streets to get their feeling on the price increase. 

Livestock farmer John Chirwa from Rustenburg says the petrol price increase was a slap in the face of farmers who were slowly trying to pick up the pieces after Covid-19. “This is a real struggle for farmers. We are working for suppliers and buying feed for our livestock. There is really no return on investment in our businesses.”

Government, Chirwa adds, is punching holes in farmers’ already dry pockets and he expects that it will only get tougher in the coming months. “This also has a lasting impact on whether one can continue with your staff complement. They have to be laid off. These are trying times.” 

Another commuter, Nomusa Mvubu from Bloemfontein, says motorists will have a bleak festive season because of the increased petrol price. “This simply means we must park our cars this festive season. Unnecessary trips cannot be tolerated while living means are becoming unbearable by the day. Everything is just super expensive.” 

African Poultry Producers deputy chairperson Dr Ethel Zulu. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The African Poultry Producers deputy chairperson Dr Ethel Zulu says the petrol increase will affect farmers across the board negatively, which will lead to revenue losses. 

“Every time there is a fuel increase, all production costs from the suppliers go up too. The sad part is that the market expects the farmers’ prices to remain the same, which is a loss to our members and farmers in general,” she says. 

For some motorists, like Keorapetse Tlhoaele from Brits, the increase was to be expected amid the challenging economic outlook the country was facing. 

“It is not good news at all for motorists and persons who rely on public transport, but we should not say this was unexpected. Our economy is ailing and things like petrol and food prices are likely to keep going higher,” he says. 

And Abdul Boikanyo from Limpopo says it has been a devastating year for farmers and it was going to take many years to build up farming businesses again. 

“The petrol price is just adding to our already troubled year. We had to deal with veld fires, diseases, stock theft and, recently, Covid-19 made it difficult for farmers to go by their everyday lives and conducting businesses due to lockdown restrictions. We had a tough year,” he says.

An expert weighs in

Head of information and marketing at FNB Agribusiness, Dawie Maree, says the impact of the record-high fuel price will be extremely tough on agriculture, and more specifically on farmers.

“We are amidst the grain summer-planting season, which will mean our farmers’ production costs increase dramatically. 

“The increase will have a negative impact on other input products for our farmers, such as transport costs, fertilisers and other things. The profit margin will definitely shrink and make life extremely difficult for farmers to do business.”

He adds that South Africans must also brace for food price increases in the near future, which has been contained for a while. 

ALSO READ: Steady rise in fuel price: ‘Not much farmers can do’

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