Degraded rivers threaten exports worth billions

Large scale contamination of rivers may bring fruit, wine and vegetable industries to a halt should rehabilitation programmes not be executed effectively.

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According to Francis Steyn, a sustainable resource manager on the LandCare project of the Western Cape department of agriculture, some of the most essential agricultural production regions in the province are threatened by degraded rivers.

The consequences for some of the most prominent export industries in the country would be catastrophic as foreign exports worth billions of rand and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be jeopardised if produce is irrigated or treated with sub-standard water or if water levels are destroyed by invaders and contamination.

Currently, irrigated crops on about 22 500ha on about 600 farms on the banks of the Berg River earn in the order of R1.8 billion annually. Of this, about R1,3 billion is from exports.

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On Wednesday, 28 October, and Thursday, 29 October, specialists from LandCare and CapeNature will highlight the extensive work being undertaken in the Berg River and the Breede River Wetlands Area.

The ultimate aim of the project is to restore the most important river system in the Cape Town Metro pole area to a healthy river system that will promote human wellbeing.