Wine sector positive despite recent heavy rains
DURBAN - Heavy rains in the Northern Cape this week have disrupted and delayed packing in the Orange River table grape production region of South Africa.
The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) chief executive Willem Bestbier said that although the rain had been ill-timed for table grape growers, it had brought much relief to the drought-stricken areas of this province.
“Producers in the region expect to resume packing towards the end of the week and the weather outlook over the next 10 days is favourable,” said Bestbier.
SATI said that the start of the season in the Orange River region was about 14 days late which means that some 30 percent of the crop still needs to be packed.
Bestbier said that while it would take some time to assess and quantify the damage of the rain, producers were optimistic that the later cultivars would be relatively unscathed. Producers have also placed grapes under plastic for protection.
According to SATI, the advantage of the geographical diversity of the 5 table grape grower regions in South Africa became evident as the industry was confident that it would continue to meet the weekly demands of all its markets.
Bestbier said the mid to later regions of the Western Cape, that is, the Olifants, Berg and Hex River were experiencing excellent ripening and early harvesting conditions and with the crops being very promising, both from a volume and quality perspective.
In its December weekly industry note, the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said the wine was among the hardest hit agricultural sectors as a result of the ban on sales during the various stages of the lockdown.
The industry communicated the potential impact of the ban on the cash flow of businesses which was more pronounced on those with a domestic focus, which was primarily small and medium-sized family farms.
The Western and Northern Cape, who are the major producers of wine in South Africa, saw employment in the third quarter of 2020 fall by 31 percent and 15 percent quarter-on-quarter, respectively.
On an annual basis, the Western and Northern Cape’s primary agriculture employment fell by 37 percent and 8 percent respectively. In the case of the Western Cape, agricultural employment in the third quarter of 2020 was at the lowest levels since the last quarter of 2014, at 136 729.
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