A recent announcement that the Clanwilliam Dam will be upgraded bodes well for South African wine grape producers in the Olifants River region and provides the opportunity for a much-needed boost in investment.
Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti recently announced the dam capacity will be increased by more than 50% by raising the wall by 13 m. It is also pleasing to note that this project will include the long-awaited construction on water canals and the removal of alien vegetation.
This upgrade, which will commence in early October, will not only allow for more stability of supply to existing users, but also provide irrigation water for an additional 5 000 to 10 000 ha in the region, with a specific focus on emerging farming enterprises and transformation initiatives.
Progress has also been made in planning of the expansion of the Brandvlei Dam in the Breede River region, through which the region will obtain sufficient irrigation water for an additional 4 500 ha to the benefit of different agricultural commodities in the region.
“The approval of the expansion and upgrade of the Clanwilliam Dam is great news for the agricultural sector, and specifically our wine grape producers in the region, who have had a very tough year following the drought,” says Rico Basson, managing director of the wine industry organisation Vinpro. “It will definitely enable significant growth and enterprise development in the medium term.”
Basson says it is encouraging to see the positive outcomes from government, industry and labour working together through forums such as the Wine Industry Value Chain Round Table (WIVCRT) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) committees.
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