W Cape agriculture sector still under pressure despite good rain

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Despite 2019 being the second year of good rains for the Western Cape, the effects of the worst drought in living memory are still present.

The agriculture sector remains under pressure while plans to mitigate water shortages are being implemented.

In some areas, dam levels are still rising, but in others, conditions are still critical.

Over the past three years, many livestock farmers only kept core herds. Some have to now reduce already decimated numbers further.

Jannie Strydom of Agri Western Cape says it could take some time to get past the effects of the drought.

“Especially in areas of the Karoo where we find that some of the veldt might take up to ten years to recover from this severe drought. Even if we have good rains at this stage, the veldt won’t recover in total, no. We’re still very concerned about parts of the Karoo and the northern parts of the West Coast and certain parts of the Overberg and Hessequa. Certain parts of the Klein Karoo are still devastating.”

Agri Western Cape says there’s cautious optimism that good wheat harvest is on the cards. A R20 million a month fodder programme is assisting around 1 500 farmers. The province’s water plan is currently under review.

Western Cape MEC for Local Government, Anton Bredell, says that there is pressure on the Western Cape’s resources due to population growth.

“It’s crucial that we realise we’re in this for the long run. We’re sitting in the Western Cape with a population growth of plus-minus 40% people over the last ten years; that put huge pressure on all our resources obviously. We sit with the economy that needs to grow, people need jobs and that will use resources so how we’re going to manage? It is absolutely crucial and throughout government, all the departments need to take hands,” expressed Bredell.

The City of Cape Town to continue with water augmentation planning. The City’s Xanthea Limberg says a new strategy includes desalination and rain water harvesting.

“Those projects are on-going; the long term large scale desalination plant project is underway in the sense that we are in the final stages of completing the site identification and that will then inform the tender process.”

Residents continue to do their part and consumption remains far below the 650 million litres per day mark.  Level 3 restrictions will be reviewed in October.