Reservations after downpours inundate the Cape – Agbiz

The Western Cape’s agricultural sector is nowhere near out of the woods despite heavy downpours experienced over the last few days, says Wandile Sihlobo, economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz).

Recent measurements taken in Kirstenbosch, Paarl, Worcester and Wellington recorded 59, 34, 26 and 23 millimetres of rain.

And as authorities battled to help affected people from low-lying areas in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu where some 700 dwellings were flooded, farmers across the Boland, Overberg and Cape metropolitan area itself must be thinking their prayers for rain have finally been answered.

Sihlobo, however, says that “continuous rainfall is what would be required from now until about November”, before the Western Cape, ravaged by dry conditions since at least 2017, can say the drought has been broken.

He pointed out that dam levels were still sitting at around 30% and a significant amount of rain would have to fall before it reached 50% – a level that should take the province out of the drought’s grasp.

Sihlobo added that for those farmers who had planted in time for the rain, yields from the past few days would bode well once production figures started coming in.

He mentioned canola and barley, “key crops” that if current rainfall figures are sustained, should spill over into job creation and an altogether firmer agricultural position.

Vintners throughout the province are also said to be cheering the prospects of what appears to be the Western Cape’s wettest winter in several years thus far.

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