SOUTH AFRICA – Chronic power cuts in South Africa along with the amplified production costs has resulted in reduced cucumber yield in the country.

According to Creamer Media, the blackouts have created problems at every step of the agricultural production chain, affecting crop irrigation, processing, and storage.

“If you don’t have enough electricity, you don’t have enough water,” said Nicol Jansen, president of Agri Northern Cape, adding that cash crops such as soybeans are also vulnerable. “We urgently need more electricity in the irrigation areas.”

In the case of cucumber production, Fresh Plaza reveals that the sector has been adversely affected by the energy crisis with fresh produce market agents citing numerous concerns over the rising costs resulting from low supply.

One market agent in Gauteng, for instance, explained that a 7kg box of large cucumbers is now sold for R165 (USD 9.00), while a 6kg box of medium cucumbers is sold for R135 (USD 7.40).

The daily prices at the Johannesburg fresh produce market indicate that 8kg boxes of cucumbers are priced at R15.57/kg (USD 0.84/kg).

“Cucumber prices should decrease slightly over the next few weeks and volumes should increase, but it all depends on what farmers managed to plant,” expressed the agent.

“In winter, cucumbers need to be heated, but the input costs have increased significantly but, in the summer, anyone can plant cucumbers.”

He further remarked that the markets are gradually becoming emptier further observing that there used to be individuals who would send three, four, or five hundred boxes of cucumbers a day but have stopped because of high input costs.

In another report by Bloomberg, the volumes of vegetables (including cucumbers, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbages, lettuce, and so forth) on the market are currently on a steady decline.

The factors contributing to this negative trend include rising input costs such as fuel, fertilizers, and chemicals, power cuts (load shedding), the expenses of operating diesel generators to compensate, and water shortages.

Globally, cucumber production is projected to reach around 100 million metric tons by 2026, up 1.8% year-on-year from 91.8 million metric tons in 2021.

Since 1966, global supply has been increasing by 2.8% annually. In 2021, China topped the list for cucumber production with 74.3 million metric tons. This was followed by Russia, Ukraine, and Mexico, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kenya experienced a 36.5% year-on-year increase, while Niger saw a decrease of 29.2% over the same period.

Information on consumption rates recorded at Tridge reveal that Russia, Ukraine, and Poland had the highest volumes of cucumber and gherkin consumption in 2019, with a combined share of 82% of total consumption.


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