Although good rainfall in recent weeks has relieved some of the pressure for Eastern Cape farmers, the future is still far from certain as in many cases their cash reserves are all but exhausted due to the drought.
According to Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern, farmers in the province have been under great pressure for four concurrent seasons, where there was way below average rainfall: “The recent rains were great news for some, with the level of the Kouga Dam rising from an unsustainable 7% to over 50%. But while that takes the pressure off farmers in the Hankey and Patensie area, who are reliant on that water to produce crops from potatoes to citrus, it does not help the rest of the province, especially the northern areas where there are huge problems due to the extremely cold weather experienced in August and September.”
“The late, unexpected cold weather was not conducive to vegetation growth. That, and also there is a desperate need for follow-up rains.”
Stern went on to say: “The only thing which saved many farmers from going under is the huge increase in commodity prices for red meat, fibre and citrus. Without that increase, results would have been disastrous for all concerned.”