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Consumers to face food price hikes

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) –┬ápartnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
07 February 2010

The prolonged drought in the Eastern Cape may soon lead to price increases in milk, fruit and vegetables. Farmers in the western half of the province say despite programmes to use every drop of water effectively, the production of milk, fruit and vegetables is declining.

Producer Danie Malan says the situation will definitely have an impact on consumers. Malan says the water year in the area ends on June 30 and if the situation is not addressed for the next water year, this might have dire effects on citrus. He added that if the situation is left until late, the area might even lose the entire crop.

Malan further says they hope the Department of Agriculture and Agri Eastern Cape will this week release the R20 million allocated by the national department to the provincial office, as aid for qualifying farmers from previously disaster declared areas. But he raised concern over the idea that game farmers will not qualify for such grants.

Last month reports showed that the ongoing drought in the fruit producing Langkloof area in the Eastern Cape was threatening the livelihood of the people living in the area. This came as the area only received one third of its annual rainfall during the past wet season. It is the worst drought in the area and it is the fourth natural disaster to hit farmers in the area during the past three years.

At the time it was expected that irrigation dams would run dry by the end of this month. Further forecasts were that if it does not rain, as much as 60% of the harvest will be lost. Reports said at least 120mm of rain was needed to avoid the crisis, just this month.

However, the long term forecast for the Eastern Cape over the next two months predicted below average rainfall for the province. It will be an economic disaster for the region which generates more than R400-million in exports and R150-million in the local market.

Source: SABC News.com

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