Philippi development ‘will kill farming’
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FARMERS of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA), which produces 150 000 tons of vegetables a year, fear they will have to make way for a development in the area, as developers have already purchased hundreds of hectares of land and have requested the City’s go-ahead.
Farmers say they worry that if a rezoning application by Multi Spectrum Property Developments (MSPD) was granted, it would mean the “death warrant” for vast hectares of prime agricultural land.
PHA Food & Farming Campaign convener Nazeer Sonday said PHA was the country’s oldest agricultural association and celebrated its 130th anniversary this year.
Sonday, who has been farming in the area since 2005, said developers had been purchasing hectares of fertile farming land from farmers, who were either unable to maintain their land or had decided to stop farming.
He said 752 hectares of land had already been sold and that developers had forwarded a request to the City for approval for a development.
If this (development) can be approved it will destroy farming in Cape Town. This is the best fertile soil to grow vegetables. If it will be rezoned for development, that will mean inflation on food prices as we will have to import food.
“We need more food for a forever growing city population. We are talking 3 000 hectares of land here of which we are only farming on 1 400 hectares. We need the rest of the land for food not development.”
Sonday said PHA had an aquifer, an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock that supplied the water for wells and springs.
Farmer Kieyaam Ryklief said developers were luring them with lucrative offers.
“They offer huge amounts of monies which farmers find difficult not to accept. And the rezoning will have a devastating impact on farming and food security. It will be difficult to keep up with farming once development takes place. If approved, this (development) will have a negative impact on us,” he said.
City spokesperson Priya Reddy was asked to confirm if the PHA was for sale, if developers had bought 752 hectares of land and whether the City had consulted the farmers.
Her response was: “The City remains committed to finding a sustainable balance between our future food security and the need for human settlement opportunities.”
When contacted, Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said he was unable to take the call, but promised to respond later. His spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said he would respond today.