During the severe drought in the Karoo in 2008 AgriWes’s chairman Carl Opperman already appealed to young people to make agriculture a career. “We need researchers, veterinerains, climatologists, food scientists and technologists. These people are vital in the mix the future of this country and its food production is in their hands. They will assist us to add value to our agriculture and help the country build a sustainable agricultural economy.”
Rains visited Cape Town and its surrounds, but months passed without a drop falling in the vast dry Karoo across the mountains. The four year drought just rolled on and on. Laingsberg, Loxton, Merweville, Beaufort West, Leeu Gamka and Prince Albert topped the list of towns worst affected. In an interview with Voice of the Cape on July 11,2008, AgriWes Cape’s chairman Carl Opperman said: “In the past four years rain in the central area has been so sparse that it did not even wet the dust.” Farmers said Opperman had reduced their flocks drastically to protect DNA groupings, but that left the meat and wool industries in dire straits. “Even springbok and oryx, the hardiest of the plains game, are dying.”
Many farmers were forced off the land. They cashed in their pension funds and when relief still did not come they simply locked their farm gates are moved to town in search of work.