Listen to the news

On the brink of harvesting the first fruits of this season, South African farmer Heiny du Toit is worried as frequent power outages threaten to take the shine off his apple and pear crops destined for markets abroad, Reuters reported.

Located in one of the country's largest fruit-growing regions northeast of Cape Town, the century-old family farm Remhoogte needs constant electricity for an automated irrigation pump network that sprays thousands of fruit trees.

Too little water during peak irrigation, from late November to mid-March, affects the size and quality of a wide variety of apple and pear varieties, affecting production and revenue as only the premium varieties are supplied to the EU, UK, China and the Middle East.

Bankruptcy of producers and traders of fruits and vegetables in Northern Greece

"The trees have a certain need for water, and if they don't get it, it will have a negative effect on the quality. Then you can't export the fruit," says Du Toit.

A 10 percent reduction in farm exports could result in a revenue loss of about 7.5 million rand ($435,600), Du Toit added, with the lower grades destined for the domestic market and juice processors.

Daily power outages, which utility Eskom expects to last at least another two years, have hampered economic growth, fueling widespread discontent among businesses and households.

"Many farmers have said that this is their last chance and if something doesn't happen very quickly, they will sell their farms," ​​commented du Toit.

Fruit production is not the only one feeling the strain.

Roughly 20 percent of maize, 15 percent of soybeans, 34 percent of sugar cane and almost half of South Africa's wheat production required irrigation, says Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the South African Chamber of Agribusiness, adding that farmers have expressed concern that power outages will hit yields.