Township farmers in the Mother City described steep electricity tariff and petrol price increases is “another gut-wrenching blow”. They are struggling to make ends meet after the City of Cape Town’s 13.5% tariff increase was followed by a hike in petrol and diesel prices.
The city’s mayoral committee member for finance, Ian Neilson, said the increase is as a result of Eskom’s 17.8% increase to municipalities. This, while the petrol and diesel price increased by 26 and 29 cents per litre, respectively. Diesel now costs 41 cents more per litre.
Many of the cash-strapped farmers told Food For Mzansi that, with the new tariff, they are constantly having to buy electricity.
Plus, many of the clients who used to buy their agricultural produce are now sourcing from alternative farmers after. Farmers have had to up their prices due to the fuel price hike.
‘It’s become really hard to farm’
Vegetable farmer Thozama Sikiti (36), who farms alongside a group of women on a Khayelitsha plot, said the new tariffs are making it harder for them to farm.
“We were notified that the electricity would increase on 1 of July. Then, days later, we realised that it was really happening.
“Every time we would buy electricity, we would notice that the units were far less.
“For example, we would buy electricity for R20 and get 11 units or when you buy R60 electricity, we would get 33 units, so they are really going down.”
Sikiti said it’s challenging because they use boreholes to water their vegetables and boreholes can’t operate without electricity.
“If we don’t have electricity and we didn’t fill our tanks with water the previous day, we won’t be able to water our crops that day.”
The FUEL price increase forced her to increase her deliver fee.
“I deliver my vegetables with my own car, so I am heavily impacted by the petrol prices. As a result, I have had to increase my delivery fee which puts me at a disadvantage because some of my customers won’t understand why I have increased the delivery fee.
“I have had to explain why and, fortunately, some have understood. I also can’t deliver to long distance areas such as Dunoon anymore. Dunoon is a 45-minute drive from Khayelitsha, so I am heavily impacted,” she said.
‘We’re forced to spend more’
Meanwhile, the co-founder of Abathethi Food Garden in Nyanga, Simphiwe Daniel (44), said their electricity is provided by the Eyethu Educare on whose premises the garden is situated.
However, the fuel price hike is worrying.
“We usually hire a bakkie to fetch manure from a client in Eerste River. The bakkie owner will charge us more because the petrol prices are obviously higher which will set us back. We also usually hire a bakkie to deliver our vegetables to townships around Cape Town and Fish Hoek so, the petrol price hike will really affect us.”
Member of the Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association in Khayelitsha, Nokwanda Nkqayi (65), faces a similar fate.
“We have two boreholes in our garden that need electricity to operate. We also use the electricity for lighting, for the stove and for the kettle, so we have been forced to spend more money on electricity,” she said.
Nkqayi now also charge more for her vegetables because of the petrol price hike.
“We had to do this because we rely on other people to transport our vegetables to townships here in Cape Town. And they are charging us more. Even when we have to buy seedlings, we have to hire transport.”