Farmers in the southern Cape, where the largest component of the province’s livestock occurred, were particularly affected by stock theft, according to Agri Western Cape CEO, Carl Opperman.
It was, however, not only livestock farmers who were subject to theft. Should official statistics be available for fruit, vegetables and agricultural infrastructure theft, they would also have shown an increase.
“Some producers in the Wellington area, for example, have done away with citrus orchards because produce theft made it impossible to continue sustainably.
In Philippi on the Cape Flats, an area that plays an important role in the food security of the province with three annual vegetable crops, producers are making provision that at least 10% of their crop is likely to be stolen,” Opperman said.
He added that the cost of the damage caused to orchards, vineyards and farm land by criminals also needed to be taken into account.
These included the millions of rands in damage when pumps, fences, pivot wheels, cables, pipes and other infrastructure were stolen or when produce suffered damage when irrigation cycles were interrupted during critical production periods because of crime.
The rise in violent crimes on farms and in rural areas was also extremely worrying.
According to Opperman, social decay had led to an environment where there was no respect for the law, authority and discipline in households and communities.
He added that Agri WC was currently in the process of presenting a strategic solution for crime prevention to various stakeholders and hoped to present it to the Western Cape legislature soon.
Their strategic solution was compiled on the premise that social welfare conditions needed to be addressed as the core of the crime problems facing the agriculture sector.
“The solution lies in the integration of the responsibilities of all stakeholders to break the cycle of crime. Combined, integrated and focused efforts are required to bring back values, respect and integrity to communities,” said Opperman.