Statement by Alan Winde, Minster of Economic Opportunities
We welcome the R40 million in drought relief for agriculture allocated by the National Government. The funds will be used for animal feed for livestock.
For the past five months, the Western Cape Government has been spending R11 million each month in own funds for animal feed to support around 1 300 commercial and smallholder farmers.
This means the Western Cape Government has already allocated R59million to drought relief over this period. A further R7.7 million will be spent by the end of August. This includes R3 million for removing the sand build up at the weir of the 24 Rivers Canal system that feeds the Voëlvlei Dam – usually the mandate of National Government. This will greatly improve the dam’s capacity to capture rain water.
As a result of the severity of the drought, in 2015 the Western Cape Department of Agriculture started initiating proceedings to declare the worst affected regions as disasters.
An analysis by economists in the Western Cape Department of Agriculture found that a 10% reduction in yields, as a result of the drought, could cost the economy R3.2 billion and place 17 000 jobs under threat.
Additional research also shows that a 30% loss of agricultural water in some of the main irrigation areas supplied by the Theewaterskloof and Bergriver water systems could lead to losses in farm income to the total of R309 million and job losses of around 1 700 employees.
These are scenarios we have managed to divert, but call on Western Cape residents to be mindful of their water usage.
The impact of the drought was also felt in the other South African provinces, with a recent impact assessment determining that at the national level the drought has resulted in a 6-7% decline in net farm income.
Due to drought, some farmers have been forced to reduce on-farm activity, particularly in respect of planting. This may have contributed to slower growth in jobs in this sector.
For media queries, kindly contact:
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government
142 Long Street, Cape Town