Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project
For Immediate Release 17 June 2022
The Greater Oudtshoorn region continues to be plagued by ongoing droughts, and alternatives have had to be found to ensure water security for the region. Since 2018, the water supply from the Raubenheimer dam was under severe pressure as the amount of water available from the dam, exceeded the amount that could be relied upon with a 98% degree of assurance. The future and ongoing supply of water in the Oudtshoorn area is severely constrained and drastic measures had to be planned to address the situation urgently.
Furthermore, the Vermaaks Rriver boreholes near Dysseldorp are used to maximum capacity and the Huis River, which supplies De Rust with water, is unreliable during the summer months, which holds negative implications for the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply System (KKRWSS).
The Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline is a project that was started in 2001 to investigate and develop alternative and additional water supplies for the Oudtshoorn area. Nine deep, and three monitoring boreholes were drilled in the Blossom’s wellfield, which were monitored and tested for 13 years. The test was completed in 2014, and it was concluded that the boreholes yield enough groundwater to supplement the water supply from the Raubenheimer Dam. It was determined that 60l/s (5Ml/day) can be supplied from 5 existing boreholes within the C1 Blossoms wellfield. The test also found that the impact on the environment would be minimal.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) approved a license for the total yield of 8 million m3/a for the ultimate full development of the Blossoms wellfield and gave the nod for the construction to commence. Originally, the project was intended as a medium to long-term bulk water augmentation intervention but given the current water crisis in the Oudtshoorn area, it will be implemented soon.
Funding for the current phases of the project, which started in February 2022, comes from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant, which allocated a total of R47 million. To date, more than R150 million was spent, which was co-funded by DWS and Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The current phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2023.
Media Release: Growth And Development Of The Agricultural Sector In The Garden Route
15 March 2022 For immediate release
Clyde Lamberts from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture was invited to speak at the first Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum of 2022 and his focus was on the growth and development strategy of the department for the Garden Route. He opened his comprehensive presentation with the following quote by Allan Savory:
“Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture, it is impossible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy”.
To put this quote into perspective, Lamberts shared one of the Department’s recent success stories: A farm in Herald was in a dilapidated state due to a lack of interest in purposing the land. A businessman who was passionate about farming bought it, and spent the next five (5) years turning it into a viable business that now produces honeybush and proteas. He is the first black commercial farmer to produce honeybush in the Southern Cape. It is because the Department assisted him that his business was able to create sixteen (16) permanent jobs, with opportunities for an additional twenty (20) seasonal workers.
Before this, in Waboomskraal, the Department assisted another farmer, who became the first black farmer in the area to produce proteas and hops.
Lamberts noted: “When all spheres of government work together in an integrated fashion, these are the type of results we will see”.
Lamberts listed the activities and services the Department provides to farmers and all other stakeholders as the following:
Independent agricultural advice and information
Supporting Livestock farmers – Development program. Livestock Forum
Performance testing/annual evaluation/ID limitations and opportunities
Investigating and implementing new hardy breeds and crossbreeding
Investigations in lowering inset cost through conservation agriculture – cover crops
Investigations into pasture species for marginal lands
Crop production advice and information
The type of training that is provided includes evidence-based and practice-based farmers’ capacity building. This is done through farmers’ days, demonstrations, peer-to-peer learning, and face-to-face interactions. Since 2018, the department trained 820 beneficiaries and this ranged from vegetable training to farm implement operation training.
The Department has a memorandum of understanding with GRDM and vacant land has been identified that the municipality owns which is conducive for agricultural development opportunities. The Department is researching the potential of commodity processing facilities in the Garden Route, which will be a source of immediate job creation – a game-changer for job creation in the region.
The Department furthermore envisions the building of Agri-Business Platforms for clients where potential products can be processed ready for consumption. Through Conservation/Regenerative agriculture, farmers are encouraged to rehabilitate and look after their own soil to turn it into organic matter that fertilizes with very few chemicals. Trials on livestock projects have yielded very positive results to date, and the global view is that going regenerative holds many financial and ecological benefits.
Agritourism needs to be promoted as it holds several untapped opportunities for the tourism sector. There is a need to compile tour packages to visit farms and processing facilities for both local and international tourism. The Roads Department has a role to play as well, as it must ensure easy access through regular road maintenance and upgrades.
The Department is in the process of revisiting mechanization which would allow for a central point that offers services such as ploughing, for example, as well as repair and maintenance services on farm implements.
Lamberts concluded his presentation by saying that we can be very proud of our district and that the Department is very excited to continue its work in the area.
Media Release: Garden Route Skills Mecca Forum Focuses On Youth Development And Agriculture
14 March 2022 For Immediate Release
The first quarterly Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum for 2022 was held on 25 February 2022 and was attended by delegates in person and online via Microsoft Teams. This setting provides Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and its stakeholders a chance to collectively work towards achieving Skills Summit resolutions.
The forum was chaired by Ald. Stephen de Vries briefly explained the role of the GRSM in relation to the National Skills Development Plan. He alluded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate where he stressed the importance of skills development to support economic growth as part of the economic recovery plan. The GRSM aligns itself with the National Development Plan 2030 vision to improve access to occupations in high demand and priority skills in supporting economic growth, job creation, and social development.
We want to contribute to the vision of an educated and skilled workforce for South Africa.
The second keynote speaker, Tshepo Manyama – Regional Manager of National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Western Cape – presented on matters of skills development plans, opportunities, and needs that support youth development in the Garden Route.
Dr. Florus Prinsloo (Skill Mecca Co-ordinator, GRDM) officially launched the GRSM website, which has been in development since last year.
The aim of the website is to serve as a central point of communication and to close the gap between service providers, investors, and candidates with learning opportunities needs.
There is still work that needs to be done which, once completed, will see the ‘partnership’ page going live. Once this happens, service providers will be able to register and list learning opportunities, which will then be communicated by GRDM’s Communication unit. A process has been established to vet all applicants before registration to ensure that the highest standards are always met.
Save The Date: Garden Route Skills Mecca Forum to Be Held on 25 February
For Immediate Release
14 February 2022
The first quarterly Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum for 2022 will be held on 25 February 2022 from 09:00-12:00 virtually. This setting gives Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and its stakeholders a chance to collectively work towards achieving Skills Summit resolutions.
Media Release: Garden Route DM commits an additional R 2.5 million towards export hub
For Immediate Release 6 September 2021
The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) reaffirmed its commitment recently for developing the Klein Karoo economy when Council approved R2 520 000.00 towards laying a pipeline from borehole fields near Calitzdorp. This project also forms part of the Joint District Metro Approach (JDMA), which was endorsed on the same day, with this funding approval in August 2021.
According to Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for GRDM, “the project will see an Agri Village established in the future, with 600 homes for community members – they’ll have the rights to their own titles too”. “It is projected that 1 800 permanent jobs and 2 000 seasonal jobs will be created through this initiative. Furthermore, this initiative will promote Agri-Tourism, as there are planned events and programmes linked to this activity to bring people into the Karoo” said Booysen.
GRDM initially funded R600 000 to carry out a water study in the area, which turned out to be successful. From this, the Municipality received two desalination plants for reverse osmosis, capable of cleaning 60 000ℓ of water per hour. After laying pipelines, the project will be ready to increase its ‘slice of the cake’ in the export market. Offtake agreements are already in place with SAPEX EXPORTS.
Primary exports will be pomegranates, and even though this type of export business from Southern Africa is a minuscule industry, there is scope for this market to grow exponentially. Currently, only 1% of world pomegranate production is exported from South Africa because exports only started a few years ago. At the moment, the total plantings in Southern Africa are less than 1000ha. “At least 10% of this hectarage will be reserved for previously disadvantaged groups (BEE) farmers,” Ald. Booysen said.
This creates an ample opportunity for exports from the Southern Hemisphere to markets in the Northern Hemisphere in their off-season, and to the Far East because there is no production there.
Feature image: Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for Garden Route District Municipality with his Mayoral Committee members and municipal employees at Celebratio, a company that successfully grows and exports pomegranates.
Media Release: Resource management is key to Eastern Cape survival
For Immediate Release 29 September 2020
“The inevitable advent of Day Zero, combined with renewed load shedding, COVID-19 impacts and political and policy uncertainty, will no doubt impact upon regional socio-economic prospects. An urgent effort is required to collectively plan around resource management and water security, in particular, for the Gamtoos Valley and the Eastern Cape as a whole,” says Rienette Colesky, Chief Executive Officer of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) in an interview with Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
The interview is part of an ongoing climate change debate and interview series, facilitated by the Forum to examine the correlation between some of the nett-effects experienced during COVID-19 and those enforced by climate change. In the interview, Meiring asked Colesky about the relevance and sustainability of resource management in the Eastern Cape.
Says Meiring: “The geographical borders of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) extend close to where the regional footprint of the GIB and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality starts. There are many shared similarities that the respective regions have in common in terms of environmental management, including climate change, in particular, drought and changes in rainfall patterns.”
Meiring wanted to know from Colesky what the GIB’s main concerns about climate change and resource management are in going forward.
Says Colesky: “The Gamtoos River community and its socio-economic survival is almost exclusively agro-centric and dependent on what the natural environment gives us. Resource management – water resource management in particular – is vital, not only for the Gamtoos and Kouga region, but it is essential for the Eastern Cape economy and the communities it supports. Water (management) is also a forex generator – it is a critical component of the entire agricultural produce export value chain and forex markets and therefore contributes to the South African economy as a whole.”
Asks Meiring: “The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has now reached Day Zero. Given the extremely vulnerable status of the Kouga dam level, what are your sentiments on the immediate future of the regional water security situation, and the prospects for the farming community that is almost exclusively dependent on water from the Kouga dam, catchment and supply system?”
Says Colesky: “We are basically in uncharted waters with regards to water security and the impact thereof will have a harsh and tangible influence on both the short, medium and long-term prospects of agricultural productivity in the Gamtoos Valley.”
“Compounding the socio-economic situation, over the past few decades we have seen a significant influx of people from destitute Eastern Cape communities into the Gamtoos region in search of work. The influx generates ever-increasing demands on sparse resources, and, as COVID-19 highlighted, poses new economic and social challenges, impacting both directly and indirectly on our mandate and management resources.”
“Over and above our mandated environmental management issues, GIB has taken on a significant number of state-subsidised relief efforts aimed at poverty relief, mostly centralised around environmental rehabilitation work in wetland systems, invasive alien plant management and infrastructure maintenance and improvement.”
Continues Colesky: “We know that the interior and western parts of the GRDM also suffer from almost perpetual drought, and the Gamtoos farming community most certainly is feeling the same pressure, having to resort to adaptive measures to reduce water use, whilst maintaining as high as possible quality production levels.”
“Despite the restrictions imposed on us by nature in the form of a changing climate, especially in terms of severely reduced rainfall in our vital catchments, our farmers’ ability to adapt to the new normal in order to survive has been remarkable thus far.”
Concludes Colesky: “We are deeply concerned about the water security situation in the region as well as what is happening in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, as we are socially and economically closely interlinked and co-dependent on the same resources.”
“An urgent and collective effort in terms of planning around resource management, and water security in particular, from regional, provincial and national levels are required, without which a prosperous future for the Eastern Cape, as a whole, will not be sustainable.”
Caption: Cover image – A noticeable influx of people from destitute Eastern Cape communities is contributing to socio-economic sustainability concerns in the Gamtoos Valley. (Photo: Cobus Meiring)
MEDIA ENQUIRIES 1. Rienette Colesky, CEO of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB)
Tel: 042 007 0382; Cell: 083 703 0428
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
2. Cobus Meiring: Chair of the Garden Route Environmental Forum Secretariat
Cell: 083 626 7619
The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the South Cape Economic Partnership (SCEP), on 9 April 2019, held a Garden Route District Inter-governmental Agriculture Workshop.
The engagement was held at the Outeniqua Experimental Farm in George and representatives from government departments and municipalities in the Garden Route district attended the event.
In setting the scene, Ms Natalie Raubenheimer, Senior Local Economic Officer at the GRDM, shared the municipality’s perspective in terms of agriculture development in the district. Raubenheimer also shared the objective of the workshop, which is to embark on a district process of effective stakeholder collaboration, including knowledge and resource sharing, which will ultimately lead to “higher productivity on farms, orient farming activities commercially, and strengthen the link between farming and other sectors of the district economy” – all these factors will be of benefit to emerging farmers.
Mr Clyde Lamberts, Deputy Director for Farmer Support and Development at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s in the Garden Route, shared the Department’s regional approach towards the development of the agriculture sector. Lamberts said: “If we share our funds and expertise, we will make a success of agriculture in the Southern Cape, as the area has many opportunities to offer”. When referring to challenges faced by the Karoo, he said: “Fifty (50) percent of the national veld which is part of an extensive sheep production hub, got destroyed due to the prolonged recent drought, of which many parts do not have the potential to recover in the short term. He added: “As a team, we can make a change in our community now, but we need to find synergy, by identifying good products that are sustainable and resilient to grow”.
During the plenary session, municipal representatives identified the various resources available in their respective municipal areas and the discussions led to the topic on how these resources can be streamlined for this regional approach to take effect. Furthermore, government representatives shared and elaborated on their respective organisations’ involvement and contribution towards the development of the regional agricultural sector in the district. Representing the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), Ms Lianda Landman during the plenary session said, that the best way in which SEDA can provide support to Agriculture in the Garden Route district is through Agro-processing. She furthermore highlighted that the organisation can also assist with the application of funding for people involved in agro-processing and/or exports, to attend various international agro-processing shows/exhibitions and that SEDA will assist with these applications to the National Department of Trade and Industry.
Mr Richard Dyantyi, Expanded Public Works Manager at GRDM, touched on the issue of the clearing of alien invasive species and shared the municipality’s challenges in this respect in the Garden Route. When mentioning these challenges, especially with regards to properties of Council, he said: “Access to these properties is a challenge, as Council properties are based within the centre of other stakeholders’ properties. The municipality needs to get the buy-in from these land owners to adhere to the National Environment Management Biodiversity Act, Section 76. GRDM will share the draft plan with the stakeholders for their comments and that the Breede Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) will assist GRDM to register for water rights of Council properties.
In realising that this workshop is a stepping stone towards a bigger process that needs to be accessed, many thought that commercial farmers and other essential government departments, should be included in future discussions of this nature. The need for all municipalities to do more in-depth analysis of their available land was also identified. Some officials that were present recalled the words of Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, when he, at more than one occasion, last year, said: “We do have properties, but we do request people to come and engage with the District Municipality”.
Ms Melanie Wilson, Manager for Economic Development and Tourism summarised the discussions of the day and Executive Manager for Economic Development and Planning, Mr Lusanda Menze, formally thanked Mr Paul Hoffman from South Cape Economic Partnership for steering sound discussions throughout the session, as well as the colleagues from B-municipalities and government departments who took part and engaged in the discussions as key stakeholders of the agricultural sector.