Irregular Energy Makes Hens and Cows Grumpy

ZAMBIA - The country's largest poultry producer has joined the clarion call for Eskom to give adequate warning about planned power cuts, while dairy farmers have warned that there could be a new milk shortage.
calendar icon 21 January 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Rainbow Chicken financial director Rob Field said last week that the company was being given less than five minutes' notice by Eskom before power was cut. "We understand the long-term problem, but our biggest gripe is the unpredictability and lack of adequate warning," Field said, adding that this made it a nightmare to plan shifts.

While generators required for rearing chickens were relatively inexpensive, the electricity-hungry abattoirs and accompanying cold storage caused a severe problem, he said.

Rainbow had three such plants. The generators for each plant cost between R25 million and R30 million. On top of that, the generators had expensive fuel running costs.

He said it was simply "too expensive" for the company to make this outlay.

Rainbow was making up lost time on processing birds for the market through weekend overtime work, but the damage to profits, which was yet to be calculated, would be "significant", Field said.

The Milk Producers' Organisation (MPO), which represents the country's 3 600 dairy farmers, added its voice to Rainbow Chicken's call for more predictability in the cutting of power.

"We are frustrated as there is just no plan on the table from government and Eskom's side. We just don't know what is going to happen," said MPO managing director Etienne Terreblanche.

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