Pick up an IN-SEASON RECIPE and lots of yummy info on your #local #food supply. bit.ly/1QS1Ldx

Agri in die media

Jobs and profits drying up on Western Cape grape farms

Ground Up
By Aidan Jones
8 March 2018

Farmer says his harvest is down 40%
As a result of higher temperatures and less water, Nico Greeff’s grape farm, Begin Boerdery, is producing 60% of its usual crop. Photos provided by Nico Greeff
Nico Greeff, a grape farmer in Vredendal, says he will make no profit this season. He has employed 30 fewer seasonal workers and, depending on rainfall this winter, may have to retrench permanent staff.
Greeff is Chairman of the Olifants River Table Grape Producers’ Association and a director of the South African Table Grape Board. His farm, Begin Boerdery, is one of the suppliers for Namaqua Wines.
“We will produce 400 tons less grapes than the usual 1,000 tons this season. All our grape varieties are down by 40%, our currants are down 70%, and together with the reduction in raisins this means a total loss of R5 million for the farm,” said Greeff. “We will make no profit this season.”
“One of my neighbouring farms lost their whole crop of table grapes. They didn’t pack one box,” said Greeff. “Another neighbouring farm lost about 70% of their table grapes.”
According to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture grape farms are one of the biggest sources of agricultural employment in the Vredendal/Clanwilliam area.
Greeff said he had employed “around 30 fewer seasonal workers” this season. He said that while he has not laid off any permanent staff at the farm, “it might be a consideration, depending on how much rainfall we get this season.”
“I grew up on the farm. I’m 60 years old now. I don’t remember a year where the Olifants River didn’t flow. It’s standing still. Farmers are now putting in pumps to get water, but it is very salty.”
Greeff said that Citrusdal, which lies 130 kilometres up the Olifants River and is a centre of citrus farming in the Western Cape, would not be as hard hit by the drought as Vredendal. “Citrusdal has better groundwater, that is not as salty as ours, and it also has better soil quality.”
Alwyn van der Merwe, a farmer in Citrusdal and chairperson of the Citrusdal Agriculture Association, said that while water conditions were a bit better for farms higher up the Olifants River, farmers in Citrusdal still had to be much more selective about their planting than before.
According to Agri Western Cape, “hundreds of hectares of citrus trees have been cut back, and hundreds of hectares of orchards have been pulled out in an effort to save the little water allocated to producers.”
A 2016 report by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Directorate of Statistics and Economic Analysis states that 286,004 hectares of land in the Western Cape is used for orchards. This is more than in any other province in South Africa.
Jeanne Boshoff of Agri Western Cape told GroundUp that fewer producing hectares meant smaller yields and less food. Indications were that the provincial deciduous fruit harvest this summer would be 20% smaller.
“This means less seasonal workers will be employed, and for a shorter period of time,” she said.
Van Der Merwe said that while many seasonal workers might not get employment for the season, “the Rooibos farming sector should absorb some seasonal workers as Rooibos grows well in dry conditions”.
Regarding his own employees, Van Der Merwe said he only had permanent staff and would do everything he could to keep them employed.
Elaine Fredericks, 24, is a seasonal farm worker who has worked in Ceres since 2012. “I help my dad, who also works on the farm, as he is the sole breadwinner in the house.” She said two of her fellow seasonal farm workers had not yet managed to secure employment this season.
Bianca Capazorio, spokesperson for the Western Cape’s Ministry of Economic Opportunities, said the department was working to connect farm workers at risk of losing their jobs with the Department of Social Development, “to ensure that they are able to access social assistance.”
Investment in the dam
Capazorio said: “We have so far contributed R5 million towards the augmentation of water in the Matzikama municipality (of which Vredendal is a part) for the agricultural sector through the drilling of boreholes.”
Greeff said farmers in Citrusdal had first pick of the water from the Olifants River before it flowed down to Vredendal, and this made it even tougher for Vredendal farmers.
“We have invested Western Cape Government funds in fixing leaks in the Clanwilliam Dam canals to ensure that water is able to reach farms downstream,” said Capazorio. The dam lies on the Olifants River between Citrusdal and Vredendal.
“Conservation agriculture has been implemented at farms across the province, enabling farmers to achieve far greater yields with lower water usage,” said Capazorio.
Conservation agriculture involves diversifying crops and planting crops that use less water, such as berries, cherries and pomegranates.
According to export values cited in DAFF 2016/17 Economic Review of South African Agriculture, citrus fruit (R17 billion) and wine (R8.7 billion) are two of the most valuable agricultural exports in South Africa. Together they represent over a quarter of the total estimated agricultural exports for 2016/17 (R97 billion).

Posted on March 19, 2018 in Uncategorized


Agri Wes-Kaap lede log in

Nog nie 'n Agri Wes-Kaap lid?

Agri Wes-Kaap:

  • fokus voortdurend op die ontwikkeling van vooruitstrewende landboustrategieë.
  • bewerkstellig 'n positiewe beleidsraamwerk vir die landbou in die Wes-Kaap waarbinne wette, regulasies, ordinansies en gesindhede landbou-vriendelik is.
  • sien toe dat landbou in die Wes-Kaap sy eie toekoms verseker, deur aktiewe betrokkenheid op alle lewensterreine.
  • skep ‘n kollektiewe magsbasis vir die landbougemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap.
  • bied ‘n fokuspunt waardeur die kollektiewe belang van landbou in die Wes-Kaap optimaal bevorder word.

Doen aansoek om ‘n Agri Wes-Kaap lid te word Ons sal reëlings met jou plaaslike Landbouvereniging tref en skakel jou terug.

Not an Agri member yet?

Agri Western Cape:

  • constantly focuses on developing more progressive agricultural strategies.
  • negotiates a positive policy framework on behalf of agriculture in the Western Cape, within which laws, regulations, ordinances and attitudes are agriculture friendly.
  • provides a platform for agriculture in the Western Cape to ensure its own future, through involvement in all spheres of life.
  • creates a collective power base for the agricultural community of the Western Cape.
  • optimally promotes the collective interest of agriculture in the Western Cape.

Apply for Agri WC membership We will make arrangements via your local Agricultural Association and get back to you.


I-Agri Western Cape:

  • ihlala igxile kuphuhliso lwamaqhinga ezolimo anenkqubela nangakumbi.
  • yenza uthethathethwano loyilo lwemigaqo-nkqubo emihle egameni lwezolimo eNtshona Koloni, ekuye kuthi kuyo yuqunlunqwe imithetho, imigaqo, izibhengezo kunye nendlela yokucinga evelana nezolimo.
  • idala iqonga lokuba ezolimo ziqinisekisa ikamva lazo, ngokuzibandakanya kwiinkalo zonke zobomi.
  • idala isiseko esinamandla kuluntu lwezolimo eNtshona Koloni.
  • ikhuthaza ngokwaneleyo umdla kuwonke-wonke kwezolimo eNtshona Koloni.

Yenza isicelo sokuba lilingu Siza kwenza amalungiselelo neManyano yeZolimo yengingqi yakho, size sibuyele kuwe.

Subscribe to our fun,
educational, inspiring
and winning updates -
and Grow Greatness
in your home.