As the Western Cape faces a serious drought due to poor rainfall during winter, the Department of Water and Sanitation has informed the agricultural sector of 10 percent additional water restrictions.
The demand for water in the province has steadily increased due to the growing population and economy. This, as well as poor rainfall, has added significant pressure on water supply.
“To further curb excessive water use, the Department of Water and Sanitation has informed the agricultural sector of 10% additional water restrictions. The water restrictions will remain until the dams fill up to 85% of their capacity,” Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.
He was briefing media in Cape Town on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting on 1 March 2017.
“In order to assist with the difficulties with regard to water availability in the Western Cape, attempts need to be instituted to provide greater comfort in the form of additional alternate water supply sources that must be on standby should inadequate water be received for this season,” he said.
Minister Radebe said the country meanwhile welcomes the much needed rains elsewhere which will go a long way in relieving the country from the effects of drought. Dams and rivers are showing signs of increasing volumes.
However, the possibility of flash flooding remains high.
“We call on communities to remain vigilant of flash flooding which could lead to the loss of life, destruction to property and infrastructure. Government and its agencies are actively monitoring the situation and are ready to act where necessary.”
The Minister said at its meeting on Wednesday, Cabinet welcomed the progress made in the distribution of animal feeds to support farmers in the country’s drought affected areas.
The initiative is part of the R212 million in support, which government has made available in 2016/17 to assist affected farmers across the country.
Provinces have also made R198 million available through equitable share funding, and funds from the Prevention and Mitigation of Disaster Risk programme were used to drill boreholes and construct fire breaks.
Fall Army Worm
Minister Radebe said following the positive identification of the Fall Army Worm infestation, government led by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, is continuing with the assessment of spread and damage.
Government is also continuing with awareness actions to provide farmers with accurate technical information and control options as well as to ensure the responsible emergency registration of agricultural chemicals.
The department has also initiated a pest action group, which meets regularly to evaluate progress and results with all provincial departments of agriculture, industry members and research organisations.
“The South African Emergency Plant Pest Response Plan, which deals with new pest detections, is already in motion to fight Fall Army Worm.
“Government will continue with its engagement with the Southern African Development Community to ensure that early warnings of these biological threats are in place,” said Minister Radebe.