1 October 2019
The Western Cape is far from being out of trouble after the 2019 rainy season, says CEO of Agri Western Cape, Mr Jannie Strydom. This year’s winter rainfall was below average again and not enough to get agriculture out of its drought crisis. The rainy season is over, with little prospects for any more significant rain. The rain of the past weekend was mainly along the coast, with very little rain in the areas where producers were hoping for good down pours. In the critically dry Oudtshoorn area and the Kannaland district, producers measured between 3 mm and 15 mm, in the Laingsburg, Prince Albert and Merweville areas between 4 mm and 5 mm, in the Beaufort West area between 2 mm and 5 mm and in the Berg River and Saldanha region an average of 2 mm. Strydom says farm dams remain empty and agriculture can prepare itself for another difficult season with some irrigation dams that are barely 50% full or empty, and pastures in the extensive areas that have not received enough rain to start recovering. The Brandvlei Dam, which serves a large agricultural area and is critical for irrigation of orchards and vineyards, stands at 53.8%, the Poortjieskloof Dam, that Kannaland producers need to irrigate orchards and vineyards, stands at 0.2% and the Keerom Dam, which is crucial for irrigation in the Koo and Nuy Valley, stands at 16.7%. The dam levels of the Kammanassie Dam on 2% and the Stompdrift Dam on 7.4%, clearly indicate the enormous crisis in which Klein Karoo producers find themselves. Lucerne, onion seed and lucerne seed producers need these dams for irrigation as well as for water for livestock. Agri Western Cape will continue to provide drought assistance to livestock producers, and will also look at humanitarian aid to producers and their farm workers in the drought-stricken areas.