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Despite winter rain, WC farmers say long road to recovery

Farm workers at two farms near Theewaterskloof are pruning the apple orchards. A year ago, Gelukstroom Farm was hit hard by the drought.

FILE: As dam levels continue to rise, EWN visited Western Cape farms to find out how drought affected production. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - City dwellers have been celebrating drenching rains and the relaxation of water restrictions after a punishing drought.

But as Capetonians fill up their pools and rehabilitate their lawns, what of the Cape’s farmers?

As winter draws to a close, EWN visited farms in the Theewaterskloof area. Farmworkers at two farms near Theewaterskloof were pruning the apple orchards. A year ago, Gelukstroom Farm was hit hard by the drought.
Not only did it affect production but the quality of fruit as well.

Supervisor Rita Valentine said they had to spend a small fortune on a drip irrigation system to save water.

At Chiltern Farms, a few kilometres away, they were a little more fortunate. The farm is closer to the Theewaterskloof dam, which means workers were able to access water even as the shoreline grew deeper.

Still, farm manager Ntandazo Mlata said it was a stressful time.

“We had to look carefully at how we manage water.”

Farmers agreed that the breaking of the drought had brought them enormous relief, but they said the road to recovery was long.

WATCH: Theewaterskloof farmers: It will take 3 years to undo drought damage