Due to the water shortages in Cape Town, 17 000 jobs in agriculture are at risk. The agricultural sector is now giving the city 30% of its water resources to ensure that people have water in their taps.
The Head of the Agriculture Department of the Western Cape confirmed this in the Standing Committee meeting to discuss the 2017 budget on the 14th of March.
According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey from Stats SA, 250 000 people are employed in the province’s agricultural sector. A loss of 17 000 jobs will be devastating for the sector.
Access to water is a human right enshrined in our Constitution, but we need to find ways where water shortages do not hurt agriculture. Innovate solutions to harvest water need to be found, and there is an urgent need to conserve water to prevent a catastrophe in the next few years.
The current water restrictions imposed on the agricultural sector by national government might be the correct measure at the moment, but they place a heavy burden on one of the biggest employment sectors in the Province.
The DA-led Western Cape has already spent more than its allocated budget for drought relief, and we need to see stronger support from national government to prevent this crisis from having a permanent effect on the agricultural sector.
Beverley Schäfer, MPP
Chairperson on the Standing Committee of Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture in the Western Cape