Disaster relief requested for South African drought

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Disaster relief requested for South African drought

Drought conditions in South Africa's Northern Cape region have prompted a request for government disaster relief to aid struggling farmers.

Agri Northern Cape lodged a formal request, contending that local resources were not sufficient to address needs.

Organization president Henk van Wyk told www.farmersweekly.co.za that some areas, such as Calvinia, Loeriesfontein, Brandvlei and Pofadder, have received almost no rain for three years. The north and northwestern sectors of the region have been most impacted, with drought also reaching into the North West province.

“We need state support. The provincial government just does not have money to help us and can’t even subsidise animal feed transport costs. If we don’t get help, a considerable number of the farmers will be forced out of the business,” van Wyk said.

André Bruwer of Northern Cape's Fivestar Producers, said rainfall this year fell quite low but that for the table grape industry at least, lack of water has not been entirely damaging.

"It is drier because last season we didn’t receive our normal rain during March, April. That was not normal. We received about 20% of our normal rainfall during March, April of this year, 2012. So, therefore, the area is quite dry, abnormal dry," Bruwer told www.freshfruitportal.com.

"I don’t think it has any impact on the production. Luckily the vineyards don’t experience any drought because they are under irrigation from the river and we have vans supplying us from other parts of the country, supplying a sustainable water resource."

Bruwer anticipated normal output for the coming table grape season, although harvest has been pushed back. He said harvest should start within one to two weeks, with most of the fruit going to Europe and the Far East.


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