Another drought casualty: potato shortage hits SA

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

A 10 kilogram bag of potatoes currently costs R7 more than it did a month ago and prices look set to rise even higher.

So says Potatoes South Africa's manager for industry information Pieter van Zyl. The significant hike in potato prices is due to the shortage of potatoes that the country is facing. The shortage has been brought on by the drought that has hit South Africa during the past few months.

Van Zyl said that in the seven months before March all production regions experienced a very productive growing season and a good harvest was realised. At that time the potato prices came down. Presently the eastern Free State region is in production for the next two months and this region is suffering immensely from the drought, which is why production volumes are low and there are shortages of potatoes in the market.

"Between March and April we saw about 10 to 12percent less potatoes in the market. In May and June we are likely to see 20 percent less than in March," said Van Zyl.

But van Zyl believes that in July and August more potatoes will be available and although it is difficult to predict how prices will react to the volumes, prices could go down again.

Potatoes make up 40 percent of the gross income of vegetable farmers.