An estimated potential drop of 10% in agricultural produce due to the drought could possibly lead to 17 000 job losses in the Western Cape. An agricultural economist has also cautioned that the current drought will have the biggest impact on seasonal employment this December.
Beverly Schäfer, Standing Committee Chairperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, said the drop in the production in produce could lead to 17 000 job losses in the agricultural sector.
Consumers have also been warned by businesses that the incessant drought will affect them. The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said consumers can prepare for an increase in meat and dairy prices, as farmers have had to reduce their livestock because of the drought.
The fruit industry will also be affected, with an expected drop in exports of fruit to international markets in December, because of fewer yields after cutbacks on land under irrigation.
“In the long term the situation should ease as good maize harvests in the rest of the country will reduce feeding costs for livestock, including poultry. Most of the effects of the drought in the Western Cape are yet to be seen, but they will become clearer as the season progresses. Fruit exports are important for the local economy and the crop yields will be difficult,” says president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, Janine Myburgh.
The 25% reduction in hectares planting of fruit will also lead to a drop in exports internationally, said Thinus van Schoor from agricultural company Value Chain Solutions, who delivered a presentation to the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce on the impact of the drought on agricultural produce in the Western Cape.
Dawie Maree, FNB economist, explained the harvest of soft fruits were significantly smaller due to water restrictions. South Africa will see a decrease in the export of fruit in December, as the reduction in irrigation has also had a huge impact on the quality of fruit.
The Western Cape contributes 24% to the total GDP of South Africa, Maree said furhter, and that the Western Cape is a central agricultural province.
“If the drought continues it will definitely impact negatively on the long-term economic growth for both the province and the country’s economy.”
The National Disaster Management Centre announced it would be allocating R40 million to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture for drought relief on Tuesday. The funds will be used for livestock feed for 1 300 farmers in the Western Cape.
Photography Jon Kerrin Photography / Where The Light Is