By Abubaker Abrahams
The Western Cape is facing the worst drought to hit the region in decades. The demand for water has also steadily increased every year due to the province’s rapidly growing population and economy. This, as well as climate change, has added significant pressure on water supply in the agriculture industry.
Stock farmers and irrigation farmers are among the hardest hit by the drought. In March, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture estimated that R96 million was needed to support farmers in drought affected areas for five months. Provincial MEC for Economic Opportunities , Alan Winde said stock farmers, who farm with livestock, and irrigation farmers, who use irrigation systems to water their crops, have been among the worst affected.
With the Qurbani season upon us, VOC News had the opportunity to visit some qurbani farms to find out how the drought is affecting the quality of sheep and cattle and how much money Muslim consumers will have to fork out for qurbani this year. Things were quite busy at Saratoga farm in Schaapkraal, as new live stock was brought in from suppliers.
The general manager of Saratoga farm, Tariq Doutie, explained how the drought affected their farm this qurbaani season.
“The drought does affect price of sheep this year due to the farmers having to feed their own stock so the prices of sheep and the prices of meat are taking a rise,” explained Doutie.
Owner of the qurban farm in Schaapkraal, Abdul Cader Rahim gave me some figures on the price rises this year.
“The farmers have increased the prices by about a third from last year. If the prices were R1400 last year, we are selling animals for R1700 and R1800. But people but people are conscious of quality these day then in previous years,” stated Rahim.
The owner of Sunrise farm, Abdul Aziz Karbary, shared concerns over why importing is not been practiced much lately by qurbaani farmers.
“In Botswana, Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan countries, there is this problem of food disease in so for that reason meat is not imported from those areas. We are mostly consuming locally produced beef and mutton, that is what we focus on,” said Karbary.
Karbary explained how the price of feed has had a 100 percent increase and later shared his personal experiences when he visited some of his cattle and sheep suppliers this year.
“It was always a perception that it was the market manipulation effect and I thought prices are manipulated for the sake of political gain. But I have been to a farm about two days ago when I saw with my own eyes that there is nothing. No grazing available, conditions were so terrible, in fact the farmer had about one hundred baby lambs lying dead on the fields,” explained Karbary.
Tariq Doutie later explained how pricing has changed this year from size and age to weight.
“Everything works by weight because the farmers are getting better profit and returns if they sell it to the market directly,” said Doutie.
Rahim said the price fluctuations could be due to the increase in wages.
“Inflation has gone up between 7% to 10% but the prices have gone up by 33%. I assume it is because of wages but wages in the farm do not go up more than 10% so overall whatever affects the farmer has gone up by about 10% to 12%,” said Rahim.
High prices will make it very difficult for ordinary people in the country to fulfil the obligation of Qurbani. But the ulema have reiterated that the more effort we put in, the more reward for Muslims. The drought has made most Capetonians conscious of their blessings and with the price of sheep and cattle expected to increase, there’s no doubt that the rewards for keeping this ritual alive will multiply when slaughtering.
Listen to the feature here: