19 January 2005

Epic drought brings farmers to their knees

Farmers and workers in many parts of the Western Cape are on the brink of a drought-induced disaster, and the provincial executive is to decide on Wednesday on short-term measures to help them.

Large numbers of farmers will have to leave their farms unless good rain - which has not been forecast - falls in the coming months, sources said.

Nine Namaqualand farmers have already abandoned their sheep farms to work for neighbouring farmers and other farmers in the area have slashed their stock down to breeding animals only, said Carl Opperman, the CEO of Agri Wes-Cape.

In the Rooi Karoo, the wheat farming area around Piketberg, an estimated 90 percent of all wheat crops have failed. In the Koue Bokkeveld, farmers have pulled out their weakest fruit trees in order to save soil nutrients, or have stopped irrigating part of their farms to save water. Wine farmers in Stellenbosch and Paarl have done likewise.


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