While the northern part of South Africa is experiencing heavy rains and welcome relief from the devastating drought, the Western Cape province is still firmly in the grip of one of the worst droughts in over 70 years. With two districts already declared drought disaster areas, rain staying away in the summer rainfall regions of the province and raging veld fires further draining valuable water resources, dam levels are critically low and livestock producers in the Central Karoo and West Coast regions are still dependent on drought assistance.
Since November 2015, Agri Western Cape has distributed tonnes of feed to producers who experience severe grazing shortages after an extremely dry winter with below average rainfall and very little snow. The rain the we hoped for in 2016 didn’t realise and livestock producers were plunged even further into a dire situation where feed become unobtainable and unaffordable and they had to sell their livestock at below average prices to already crowded feedlots.
Grain producers in the Swartland also suffered huge losses in 2015 with 200 000 tonnes of wheat that couldn’t be harvested. Some producers didn’t harvest one sent. The region also experienced below average rainfall during the 2016 winter season, but thanks to the little rain falling at ideal intervals, producers were all smiles after bumper harvests, resulting in precious roughage for livestock producers.
However, rendering drought assistance to our commercial and emerging producers in need would not have been possible without tonnes of feed donations, transport donations and financial contributions from individuals, companies, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Agri SA, other provincial agricultural associations, schools and even old age homes who raised funds “because of the goodwill of Western Cape farmers towards the elderly”. We want to express our sincere gratitude to every person who has helped us to keep our producers on their farms and who is still keeping our farmers in their prayers.
The water situation in the province is dire and as Agri Western Cape predicted in October 2015, residents in the Cape Town metropole are also now feeling the impact of two seasons of below average rainfall. The Eden district is also running into trouble with empty irrigation dams and very little summer rainfall to date. Producers in the province have been subjected to water restrictions and with no post-harvest water available for fruit producers, we fear what the impact may be on next year’s harvest.
Agri Western Cape will keep on assisting livestock producers who will be dependent on drought assistance for months to come. We still need all the support we can get and welcome any financial contributions to foot the enormous transport costs to have feed delivered to drought stricken areas.