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Heavy rains cost SA’s tomato industry almost R100 million in December alone

Business Insider SA
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Heavy rainfall leads to losses of R94 million in December for South Africa's tomato sector. (Image: Getty)
  • In December alone, the tomato growing industry lost at least R94 million due to heavy rains.
  • Supply was also short during the month, with fresh produce markets around the country receiving up to 700 tons fewer tomatoes daily.
  • This has caused tomato prices to rise from R7 per kilogram to R12 in one month.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

While many farmers generally welcome rain, it has cost South Africa's tomato industry at least R100 million during December alone.

This summer, South Africa has been experiencing heavy rainfall, wreaking havoc on harvests of essential staple fruit and vegetables. For the tomato industry, the losses have reached R94 million in December, Clive Garret, marketing head of ZZ2, South Africa's largest tomato producers, told Business Insider South Africa on Tuesday.

The recent rains have resulted in South Africa's five main fresh produce markets receiving between 500 to 700 tons fewer tomatoes daily in December, Garret said.

"If one takes a conservative price of R7/kg and a shortage of 500 tons per day, then the loss for December would be in the region of R94 million," he said.

As a result of decreased tomato volumes delivered to markets, prices moved shot up from R7 per kilogram to R12 per kilogram between the start of December to the end, an increase of 71%.

However, volumes have already started to improve and no significant impact on the volumes is expected this year, he said.

In his weekly video that tracks the price movements of fresh produce, Dr Johnny van der Merwe said prices would likely continue to increase if South Africa experiences a wetter year.

The agricultural sector has not only experienced excessive rains, but it has also had to contend with hail damage in areas such as the North West, Free State, and Mpumalanga, Agri SA's executive director, Christo van der Rheede said.

“In most areas, especially in those areas, vegetable farmers were also affected, especially with the plantings of tomatoes, the plantings of potatoes and other crops,” Van der Rheede said.

"But if there's a shortage in a particular region, it's being made up again by farmers in other regions," he said.

He said that some farmers lost their livestock, with some reporting significant damage to their chicken pens

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