Lower harvest for Vredendal farmer amid drought

Grape farmer Barend Vorster says careful planning went into production to keep the business afloat.

Farmers have been unable to harvest vineyards on a farm in Vredendal, in the Western Cape due to the current drought in the province. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Vredendal farmer says he's produced 50% less table grapes this year compared to the same period last year.

The Matzikama region is battling one of the worst droughts in 100 years, one many fear will severely dent the local economy.

The municipality says the agricultural sector will run out of water at the end of March, while residents will have drinking water until the end of the year.

Grape farmer Barend Vorster took Eyewitness News on a tour of his family farm, Kapel, nestled on the outskirts of the Vredendal town.

He says careful planning went into production to keep the business afloat.

“We got about 14% of our water this year. I had to make a difficult decision and leave about 30% of our vineyards. I took away the water to use it on some other higher yield crops."

Vorster says their wine grapes are also expected to have a lower harvest of between 45% and 50%.

He emphasises jobs in the sector will be affected as the harvesting season was halved as a result of lower production.

Municipal officials estimate around 14,000 jobs are at risk.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)