The drastic water cuts on extraction from the Kouga Dam that are expected to come into effect from tomorrow, could be a devastating for Gamtoos Valley Farmers.
The Democratic Alliance has reliably learnt that the Department of Water and Sanitation has cut the normal water allocation for agricultural use from the Kouga Dam by 80%.
The 20% that is left over, which farmers can still extract, will not be sufficient to keep their orchards alive over the coming months.
Thousands of hectares of citrus could be affected, which will have a devastating impact on jobs in the region. This will cause untold hardship for people who are already battling in the current economic climate.
It will also be a devastating blow for the agricultural sector, which was already projected to decline by 4,4% this year by the Provincial Treasury.
These farmers are some of the biggest producers of citrus fruit in the country, and citrus exports from this area is a significant contributor to the provincial GDP. Should their orchards be lost it will take years, if not decades, for them to recover.
Requests from the DA to stop the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality from extracting from the Kouga dam have gone unheeded, and, even if implemented now, will not be sufficient to prevent the disaster that lies ahead.
The Kouga Dam stood at mere 7.11% of total capacity as of this morning, 30 June 2020.
I have written to the Premier, Oscar Mabuyane and MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nomakhosazana Meth, to request that they immediately consider making emergency disaster funding available for disaster relief to these farmers, in a bid to support the region with infrastructure to maximise ground water extraction.
This could go a long way in mitigating the worst impacts of the drastic water cuts and could potentially maintain the orchards till the rains come.
Government needs to act now, if there is to be any hope in saving this region from total collapse!
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