Premier Alan Winde Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – An estimated R146 million is required to assist drought-stricken farmers in the province until the end of March 2020.

This emerged when Premier Alan Winde, Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer and the provincial cabinet this week met representatives from the agricultural sector to discuss the successes and challenges they faced on the back of the crippling drought.

The meeting forms part of a series of engagements Winde and his cabinet will hold with various sectors and roleplayers in the province over the coming months.

Winde thanked the sector for its resilience and for continuing to invest in agriculture, in spite of the worst drought in 100 years.

While good rains have seen many of the province’s dams start to fill, some areas continue to experience drought conditions.

Key roleplayers, including Agri Western Cape, African Farmers Association Of South Africa (Afasa), Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA) and representatives from the fruit and wine as well as the red meat and wool industries raised a number of concerns.

These included the transformation of the agriculture value chain, drought support, trade and market access and the socio-economic impact of the drought on agriculture.

Provincial Agriculture Department head Joyene Isaacs confirmed that the provincial Risk in Agriculture Committee had gathered all the data needed to request further drought support and relief for farmers to an estimated value of R146m.

The data will now form the basis of a report, highlighting the support needed in the sector, which will be forwarded to the Department of Local Government, the provincial Disaster Unit and the Western Cape cabinet.

Meyer said despite the drought, “agriculture in the province generates a total income of R21 billion a year and provides for 17% of our total workforce in the province and 26.7% of agri-workers in South Africa”.

“The Western Cape contributes 45% to South Africa’s agricultural exports. We must therefore nurture, protect and support this sector.”

Winde, meanwhile, said he was pleased that the agriculture sector continued to invest in the province.

“Investment is a sign of confidence and the fact that we are seeing investment continue in agriculture is a sign of its recovery following the drought.

“Creating an enabling environment for the economy to grow is a key focus for this government and a crucial aspect of this is ensuring that agriculture is supported,” Winde said.

“Agriculture in the Western Cape is an important contributor to the economy in terms of job creation, revenue generation and it plays a major role in national food security.”

All participants on the day committed to continuous engagement, acknowledging their joint responsibility in ensuring that the sector is allowed to develop and grow.