Up date on situation in the Cape

South Africa: Extensive damage to fruit and vegetables

Hail has caused havoc in the biggest fruit-growing areas in the Western Cape, wiping out fruit crops on scores of farms in the Witzenberg, Ceres and Koue Bokkeveld areas.

One farmer on Monday told the Cape Times he had probably lost his entire R70 million annual turnover.

Apples, pears, stonefruit and onions were among the crops affected as heavy hailstorms hit the prime fruit-producing areas.

Agri Wes-Cape chief executive Carl Opperman said 90 percent of farms in the Ceres and Witzenberg area and half the farms in the Koue Bokkeveld and Warm Bokkeveld area had suffered between 50 percent and 100 percent damage.

He said in Wolseley, some farms had experienced between 80 and 100 percent damage.

Opperman said aside from fruit, vegetable plantings had also been damaged. But he said as warmer weather continued and the land dried out, damages could be reduced.

He was unable to say exactly how many farms had been affected as farmers were still assessing the hail aftermath.

Darius Willemse, the financial manager at the farm Doornkraal outside Ceres which produces mainly apples, said the farm had been severely affected.

“It’s a 100 percent write-off. From what I hear, everyone in the valley is affected. It’s very, very bad. Our whole revenue for next year is wiped out."

Willemse said about 150 temporary workers hired only about a month ago had on Monday been told there was no longer work for them.

More workers were expected to be affected.

Fruit intended for export would have to be made into juice and Willemse was worried juicing facilities would become overburdened.

“Everyone’s going to go for juice,” he said.

Gysbert du Toit, a manager at the Koue Bokkeveld fruit and vegetable producer Dutoit Group, said “the whole region” had been affected.

He said while farmers were used to having to deal with weather fluctuations, they were “not used to this widespread hail”.

“We’ve had severe damage,” he said. Du Toit said a lot of fruit had broken as a result of the hail and this would result in fewer workers being hired.

Du Toit said it would take roughly another two weeks to determine the full financial implications of the storms.

Other farmers said because of damaged fruit, packing facilities would be affected as there would be much less to pack for exporting.

Wouter Kriel, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry’s spokesman, said the department was still waiting to determine the overall damages caused by the hail. Some farmers were so upset that they had not yet reported the damages they had suffered.

“Just last week, farmers were saying it’s going to be a fantastic harvest,” he said.

Source: www.iol.co.za

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