The ongoing drought conditions in the Western Cape will reduce animal, crop and horticultural production by as much as 10%, which will have a significant impact on the price of consumer goods, Western Cape Economic Opportunities Minister Alan Winde warns.
At a Minister and Members of Executive Council meeting, held in Pretoria last week, Winde tabled a report outlining the anticipated impact of the drought, noting that next year’s harvest would be hardest hit, owing to farmers not having sufficient water for post-harvest irrigation.
“The majority of our horticultural and vegetable crops are irrigated. Farmers have experienced localised shortages of irrigation water. Some stopped irrigating certain blocks, which will result in decreased yield.
“Indications are that the wheat industry was the most severely impacted. The local price of wheat will be based on the cost of importing wheat at a poor rand/dollar exchange rate, driving food prices up,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the analysis, prepared by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, urged retailers to guard against unnecessary food price hikes.
“Farmers do not receive the largest share of the profit of products sold by retailers. For instance, less than 18% of the value of a loaf of bread reaches the farmer. Therefore, the cost of agricultural products is a very small part of the price consumers pay for products.
“One of the biggest risks we will have to manage is the potential shortage of white maize. This is the most important staple in South Africa, particularly for poorer citizens.
“Southern Africa is one of only two regions where white maize is produced, with the result that it may be difficult to source product. This may lead to even higher levels of domestic white maize prices with the result that we need to develop strategies to manage this risk,” Winde explained.
He added that the provincial government would continue to monitor the impact of the drought and would continue to promote smart agricultural practices to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.