The Western Cape has faced its worst drought in a century, and this is the third consecutive year of that drought. Cape Town’s mayor has been at pains to point out that — with climate change — “This is the new normal.”
With dwindling water supply to farmers, crop productions have been slashed and, across the Province, between 35,000 and 50,000 jobs are at risk, excluding an even larger number of seasonal workers. I asked for the provincial department of agriculture’s stats for produce under threat but received no response! I am underwhelmed!
Minister Alan Winde’s speeches, however, paint a dire picture which are just a tip of the iceberg. A month ago, Alan visited the West Coast. “There’s thousands and thousands of hectares of agricultural land below the Clanwilliam Dam which produces a lot of produce and revenue for our country that’s now under severe water restrictions. They’re going to produce 50% less,” he said. “Farmers are being throttled and are forced to use 60% less water, with the Clanwilliam Dam level at around 36%. There’s an 80% decrease in potato crops and a drop in wine and export quality citrus.” With commercial farmers struggling, one focus for Province is supporting backyard food gardens for workers’ food security.
“In places like Ceres, 80% less potatoes and 50% less onions will be planted — resulting in about R40 million less paid out in salaries and wages. In Lutzville the tomato paste plant will not even open this year. Some 30 000 animals have been sold as farmers battled to feed their core herds.”
Against this backdrop, Boschendal started out at the beginning of the drought with a massive planting of 600,000 new fruit trees over a period of three years — which has just been completed. Permanent jobs in farming operations alone has grown from 70 to 287. Their dams are full and Jacques du Toit, Boschendal’s general manager, said the dams started overflowing on 20 August and he counted 15 streams on the farm running into the Dwars River, on to the Berg River, and out to sea…