Day Zero has been moved to the the 9th of July for Capetonians, but farmers in Franschoek say their crops are already experiencing Day Zero.
According to a farmer in Franschoek, the water that is released by the Berg River Dam has been shut off for the last three weeks.
Farmers are allocated 40% of the water that flows from the Berg River Dam for irrigation, but will now have to find alternative water sources. The water that is left does not flow and has become stagnant, causing farmers to fear bacteria forming, which could contaminate crops.
Farmers in the Franschoek area have resorted to sharing what little water they have with fellow farmers in bid to sustain their livelihood.
According to Jeanne Boshoff, a spokesperson of Agri-Western Cape, farmers in the Berg River region have depleted their water quota. Agriculture has been allocated with a certain amount of water. Boshoff maintains that farmers were well aware that their water quota was nearing its end, resulting in more than 50 000 seasonal workers unable to find work during this severe drought.
The agricultural sector contributes 2% of South Africa’s GDP, with the Western Cape contributing more than a fifth of this 2%. The province’s major commodities are that of horticulture – vegetables, wines and fruits. The Western Cape also produces livestock, meat, diary and crops such as wheat and barley. All these are heavily reliant on water to thrive.
The long-term impact of the drought could be disastrous as consecutive years of loss may cause many farmers to go bankrupt. A number of farmers have already abandoned agriculture completely.
Production volumes of wine and fruit are expected to fall by 10% to 30%.