The drought has halted economic growth in the Western Cape‚ finance MEC Ivan Meyer said in his budget speech on Wednesday.

Agriculture and agri-processing‚ which together produce goods and services worth R54bn‚ had been hard hit‚ he said.

"A report by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy estimates that the impact of the drought equates to an average production decline of about 20%‚" Meyer told the provincial legislature in Cape Town.

"The agriculture sector in the province has, on average, had to cut its water use by 60%‚ and some areas have already drawn down their entire water allocation. The impact of the drought is already evident in record wheat production losses. Export volumes of agricultural products from the province are expected to decline between 13% and 20% this year."

On top of this‚ avian flu had cost poultry farmers in the province R800m‚ and thunderstorms and hail recently destroyed about 200‚000 cartons of late-season plums.

The drought had also had a major impact on jobs. "The combined average agricultural employment for the second‚ third‚ and fourth quarters of 2017 compared to 2016 was a decline of 31‚000 jobs‚" said Meyer. "Looking at actual employment numbers and comparing the average employment numbers per quarter of 2015 and 2016 to those of 2017 — the drop is even more severe."

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