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How Western Cape food crops are being affected by the driest season in years

15 May 2015 9:14 AM
A weather analyst explains why there's been such low rainfall in the province, and we unpack what this means for our agriculture.

April has been the driest month in over 40 years in several parts of the Western Cape region, according to reports by the South African Weather Service . As a result of these dry conditions, farmers across the province are concerned about their agricultural crops.

CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies spoke to rainfall analyst for SA Weather Service, Stella Naike as well as Carl Opperman, CEO of Agri Wes Cape.

Why we are experiencing dry conditions

Naike says most of rainfall we receive in the Western Cape comes from mid-latitude systems which provide cold fronts and other cyclonic flows that give us wet weather. But these systems have shifted south, and we've been missing rain as a result .

She says that the province has been experiencing extremely dry conditions, particularly in the areas over the Cape Flats, West Coast and Boland, which have seen some of the lowest rainfall measurements since 1957.

According to Naike, one of the weather service stations in the Cape Flats has had the driest period since 1974, measuring only 4.4 millimeters of rain.

Clan William Dam

How it may affect our farmers

Carl Opperman, CEO of Agri Wes Cape says that the low rainfall will affect farmers’ ability to irrigate their crops, particularly deciduous fruits, vegetable produce and in the vineyards.

According to Opperman, Clan William dam is dropping to water levels of 8% and farmers from the surrounds will soon not be allowed to use water for irrigation.

We are very concerned; this is one of the driest summers that we've ever had in the agriculture in the Western Cape. We are concerned for the wheat and barley farmers, who have to plant now - it is very very dry. The Karoo areas, which normally get their summer rainfall, are also very dry; there is no felt at the moment.

Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies:

15 May 2015 9:14 AM