Farmers lose R14 billion as Cape drought bites

CAPE TOWN – Farmers in the Western Cape have recorded a R14 billion loss so far, as a result of the crippling drought in the province, that is according to Agri Western Cape CEO Carl Opperman. Farmers have warned that the agricultural sector faces a jobs bloodbath, saying that an estimated 50,000 people could be out of work soon.

Currently, the poultry sector is also reeling due to the recent outbreak of avian flu, although there hasn’t been any new cases since October 2017.

The drought in Cape Town has forced officials to impose strict water restrictions, and the agricultural sector, which is the largest consumer of water, has had its supply curtailed by between 60% and 87% Opperman said.

“Both the fruit and vegetable industries have been hard hit by the drought and water restrictions. In the Ceres area, for example, the limited water supply” resulted in 50% less onions and 80% less potatoes being planted this season. This impacts on food production and wage losses of millions of rand for seasonal workers.

Consumers should also brace themselves for possible increases in food prices. Opperman also said that deciduous fruit crops would be about 20% smaller than previous years and that would mean that about 50, 000 seasonal workers would receive income that was lower than normal, or no income at all.


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