Lower fuel prices welcomed by farmers

SA grain producers welcomed an announcement that the diesel price will decrease by 48c/litre on 7 September, while the petrol price will decrease by 18c/litre.

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The announcement could not have come at a more opportune moment, according to Anton Botha, a grain producer from Bultfontein.

“We are just starting with the primary preparations for the 2015/2016 grain production season and the price drop makes a real difference in input costs,” he said.

Producers stand to gain markedly from the drop in fuel prices. In Botha’s case, fuel represented at least 15% of the production costs.

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The majority of farmers in the western Free State, for instance, still follow conventional tillage methods, resulting in high fuel costs. Less fuel is needed for no- and min-till production practices.

Botha, who did not implement no-till measures, needs a minimum of 120 litre diesel per hectare for primary preparation.

“The past few years’ drought resulted in vast tracts of grain lands left fallow. The lower fuel prices are indeed good news for producers who choose to prepare these for the next production season,” he said.

Grain producer Derek Mathews also welcomed the announcement, saying it represented a substantial saving, although the price could very well increase soon. “However, any savings means a lot to us,” he said.

“We were hard hit by the drought. Fuel forms a relatively small part of my input costs because of no-till, but conventional tillers will gain from the reduced fuel prices.”