Potato farmers in Limpopo say they expect the price of potatoes to fluctuate in the coming weeks. One of the farmers says one of the reasons is the increase in production costs and the cold winter season.
The 2020 winter season has increased pressure on the production of potatoes across farms in Limpopo. The province is the largest producer of potatoes in the country.
Climate conditions, weak economic projections and labour challenges have affected the volume of potatoes harvested in the province.
The price of a 10kg bag is averaging at about R100. Limpopo farmer, CT Van Der Merwe, says the price increase has also been influenced by production cost that increases every five years.
“It is the production costs like I mentioned now is rising sharply and continuously and that puts tremendous pressure and decrease margins but statistically according to our information within five years you get an increase in prices and this is that year so it is not an abnormal tendency for prices to go up I think the biggest abnormality was the two weeks that we had high prices and that was because of the low volumes.”
Van der Merwe says the first harvest of potatoes in June plummeted by nearly 30% compared to last year because of the bitterly cold winter.
“The prices rose sharply for a period of two weeks, and then it decreased again about 33% to where it currently is. And the reason for that is the cold winter that we had. All the farmers in Limpopo yields are down at between 10% and 30% plus the volumes are lower, causing higher prices if you take inflation into consideration. This is the third-highest price we have had in 20 years.”
Street vendor, Linah Maponya, who sells bunny chows, says the high price of potatoes is decreasing her profit.
“The potatoes have been going up last year we were buying potatoes for sixty rand per bag now the price of potatoes is ninety rand so it influences us badly because even if we want to change the menu for the prices we can’t because people have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19.”
Farmers expect the second harvest which runs from August to the end of November to improve as temperatures have increased.