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Expanded Greater Brandvlei Irrigation Scheme is an opportunity for inclusive growth in the wine sector

8th March 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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The completion of the Brandvlei dam infrastructure project, near Worcester, is expected to bring about enterprise development, transformation, job creation and socioeconomic development.

First identified in 2008, the improvements in the catchment infrastructure for the Brandvlei dam project came into fruition when a call for a series of applications to contend for infrastructure finance from government was heeded by stakeholders.

The catchment management authorities recognised that the Brandvlei dam was an off-channel dam and water was diverted from the Smalblaar river into the Holsloot river, where a feeder canal had been built between the weir and the wall of the Brandvlei dam.

However, the feeder canal could only fill the dam to 73% of capacity and increasing the canal wall by 30 cm over a 4 km stretch would deliver another 33-million cubic metres – a 15% increase in water capacity.

The heightening of the feeder canal was motivated as part of the government’s Strategic Infrastructure Programme.

According to a wine industry strategic exercise in 2014, some 4 000 ha of additional water could be generated by the Brandvlei dam scheme with infrastructure changes.

This would form a crucial part of the wine industry’s vision for inclusive vineyard production.

South African wine industry representative body Vinpro was invited to form part of an Inter-Governmental Steering Committee represented by 17 government departments and relevant industry stakeholders that were established in 2015 and chaired by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

“This steering committee added substance to form, by providing the required economic analyses and advocating for the expedition of the project with the ear of all 17 government departments,” says Vinpro compliance and special projects manager Paiter Botha.

“The project experienced some headwinds owing to various reasons. Vinpro, through our representation on the Horticulture workstream of the Agriculture and Agroprocessing Masterplan ensured in 2020/21 that this project was positioned as a high priority, high impact project.”

A dedicated Vinpro board task team was established to help drive the process from a transformation perspective and the positioning of this project through the Resources Workstream of the Wine Industry Value Chain Round Table chaired by Vinpro.

“We are so proud and thankful that we were part of this great initiative that opened in February this year,” says Botha, noting that the raising of the canal wall at the Brandvlei dam is “fantastic news” for the wine and other agricultural subsectors.

It will address much-needed water allocation for reform, transformation, job creation and socioeconomic development within one of the largest wine-growing regions.

“We would like to thank the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, notably Dr Dirk Troskie, chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Steering Committee, that drove the budget of R21-million and created additional irrigation for 4 400 ha,” he adds.

The construction phase also created 32 local jobs.

“A huge thank you also goes out to Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, director-general Dr Sean Phillips and the team from Construction South, who completed the work,” Botha concludes.

A phase that focuses on applying for and evaluating water licenses has been launched and the second call for water applications has been published by the Breede Gouritz Catchment Management Agency.

The call for applications will be effective until June 30, 2023.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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