The Western Cape Government has tabled an early analysis of the impact of the drought.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said a key concern was the livelihoods of seasonal farm workers.
“Residents living in those towns which have been severely affected by drought are most at risk. Some seasonal workers will be without incomes and they’re also going to be dealing with increasing food prices. This is a double blow that will put intense pressure on households in many of our rural areas.”
On Friday, Minister Winde tabled a report on the anticipated impact of the drought at the MINMEC meeting in Pretoria, a meeting of MECs from all provinces and the national Minister.
The analysis, which was prepared by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, sheds light on the anticipated real impact of the drought on food prices and agricultural production in our Province. This analysis is in advance of a more detailed report to be released soon by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP).
Minister Winde’s key points, as shared in the MINMEC, include:
1. Impact on agricultural production
“The total impact on animal, crop and horticultural production will be a reduction of 10%.
“The majority of our horticultural and vegetable crops are irrigated. Farmers have experienced localised shortages of irrigation water. Some stopped irrigating certain blocks, which will result in decreased yield. However, the biggest impact may be on next year’s harvest due to the fact that farmers may not have sufficient water for post-harvest irrigation.
“Indications are that the wheat industry was the most severely impacted. The local price of wheat will be based on the cost of importing wheat at a poor rand-dollar exchange rate, driving food prices up.
2. Impact on price of consumer goods
“Farmers do not receive the largest share of the profit of products sold by retailers. For instance, less than 18% of the value of a loaf of bread reaches the farmer. Therefore, the cost of agricultural products is a very small part of the price consumers pay for products. Retailers should guard against unnecessary food price hikes in the name of the drought.
“One of the biggest risks we will have to manage is the potential shortage of white maize. This is the most important staple in South Africa, particularly for poorer citizens. Southern Africa is one of only two regions where white maize is produced with the result that it may be difficult to source product. This may lead to even higher levels of domestic white maize prices with the result that we need to develop strategies to manage this risk.”
“We will continue to monitor the impact of the drought.
“Partnerships have been crucial in supporting the agricultural sector. Banks are renegotiating terms to mitigate the financial impact on agri-businesses. The private sector and residents have also stepped in, delivering feed to farms.
“Adverse weather conditions are considered a normal risk for farming operations. We encourage the agricultural sector to make provisions for learner periods.
“We will also continue to promote smart agricultural practices to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
“Many farms have already introduced conservation agriculture. This approach is being driven by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Research Council. It involves minimum soil disturbance, maximum soil cover and crop rotation. Our wheat farmers have already seen increased production and profit, and reduced soil erosion. Going forward we will continue to raise awareness of this approach.”
For media queries, kindly contact:
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Western Cape Government