South Africa will have to import as much as 60% of its wheat demand as a result of the debilitating drought in the Western Cape. This is 10% more than the usual quantity imported.
The harvest in the province is down by an estimated 40%. This as the drought is the worst in over a century.
In October Swartland farmers started taking stock. Wheat that was supposed to stand waist high, barely touched the knee.
The Swartland is the core of the Western Cape’s wheat production area and the province serves as the breadbasket for the country.
In this area, a 50% wheat harvest loss has been recorded. It equates to a loss of up to R650 million. But while Swartland farmers still had a semblance of a harvest, the further north you go, the worse it gets.
Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape says, “Some of them are going in for their third year now with no decent crops so their cash flow and their asset value is under severe stress and we are pleading to the credit suppliers that they must take cognizance of what’s happening especially we’ve got to save the rural areas and see how we can keep these people ticking, hopefully next year is a better year.”
Opperman says this will have a knock effect on the entire agriculture value chain.
Generous donations from farmers in the northern parts of the country are a great help.
Especially for live stock farmers who are only keeping core herds. There is an appeal to spare a thought for especially the women, battling to keep families afloat.
“We’ve got to salute them, we’ve got to keep their hands up, emotionally they are taking a lot of strain, we’ve got to assist them with that and that is where we’re asking think about us, keep is in your prayers and let’s hope that we are going to get the rains that we so seriously need,” says Opperman.
Agri Western Cape says the public can help by continuing to buy local produce and pray for rain.