Trucks can't move so farmers pour tonnes of milk onto the ground
Dairy farmers have been forced to dump their supplies of milk because it cannot be transported across the country.
The SA Milk Processors' Organisation (Sampro) said the violence and looting of the past few days would have a long-term affect on the whole industry — and consumers.
Looters have invaded some farms, stolen livestock and equipment, destroyed infrastructure and endangered the lives of employees.
Sampro CEO Alwyn Kraamwinkel said KwaZulu-Natal was responsible for 70% of the country’s unprocessed milk produce.
“Unprocessed milk cannot leave the farms, which is something that normally happens daily as it has a limited shelf life. You can’t do anything with it once milked,” he said.
“Inputs required for stock like feed cannot reach the farms either. The nutritional level of the cows is seriously jeopardised. Certain deliveries cannot be received because the facilities have been damaged or they have closed down.”
He said the effect would trickle down to other parts of the supply chain.
“Many factories cannot operate because they cannot receive milk and cannot forward manufactured product.
“If we look at the market, a lot of retail shops used by consumers are not operating — either destroyed or stopped business. Critical facilities like banks are affected — that service is not available for transactions,” he said.
As a result, many dairy farmers were left with tonnes of milk they had to discard.
“This is a fundamental crisis.”
A dairy farmer in Mooi River, who requested his identity be protected, said business was significantly disrupted.
“We normally ship within 24 hours, after that it goes stale. It’s called fresh milk for a reason ... Big producers can’t move their products.
“Other complications are we can’t get fuel. This means we can’t run our tractors to run the farms. We can’t feed our cows.”
He had booked 8,000 litres of fuel and his supplier was unable to deliver.
“We also have issues with electricity and the power utility can’t respond. Our equipment has been ransacked.
“Farmers are significantly stressed at the moment. Financially, many were on the back foot before this started,” he said.
He was concerned about a looming humanitarian crisis. “We have to feed our workers with the little we have. We had to fend for ourselves, there was no army or police. We have no ambulance service,” he added.
“We provide cheap produce way better than the government, we don’t even get credit for that. Politicians like saying how bad farmers are, but we’re the ones who will feed our towns.”