No relief in sight for anxious Cape farmers
Halfway through the Western Cape’s winter rainy season, rainfall remains disappointingly erratic
The drought gripping the Western Cape shows no sign of abating and threatens to decimate the province’s crucial agricultural sector. Halfway through the Western Cape’s winter rainy season, rainfall remains disappointingly erratic, dam levels are still critically low and farmers are anxious, with big losses expected. Agriculture is the backbone of the province’s economy. The Western Cape produces more than 50% of SA’s agricultural exports, with the EU being one of the biggest export destinations. The region also accounts for almost 75% of annual offshore wine sales, worth R5bn. The drought has already taken a toll on agricultural production. An analysis by economists in the Western Cape department of agriculture found that a 10% reduction in yields as a result of the drought could cost the economy R3.2bn and place 17,000 jobs under threat. "Our research also shows that a 30% loss of agricultural water in the Western Cape could lead to losses in farm income to the total of R309m," say...