According to the Department of Water and Sanitation agriculture is the “largest single user of water in South Africa at 60%.
This was said by DWA deputy director-general Anil Singh speaking at the Agri Water Symposium held in Cape Town.
The 2014/2015 drought open ripe the heart of the trouble -exposed the shortage of South Africa’s water reserves. Climate change was beginning to affect the agricultural sector and it was becoming necessary for the sector to design strategies on water use.
For smallholder farmers, the situation was even dire. The interconnection of people to food and water in rural setting depended on the two. “Food and water security in rural areas are dependent on the local government and the community, not on national government’ said Prof Andries Jordaan research fellow at the University of Free State.
Anil concurred with Prof Jordaan on local government playing its part ensuring food and water security.
“Water quality is an important issue in SA and must be dealt with in a stringent manner. Not only on the national level but also on the provincial and municipal level.”
Prof Mike Muller, adjunct professor, University of Witwatersrand added that “government should take the lead in the management of climate change, but it was in the interest of agricultural industries to help them do it”.
The Agri Water Symposium heard that the key water challenges facing SA’s agricultural sector were increased competition due to high usage efficiency, farming businesses water intensification, lackluster management of climate and infrastructure and the slow cooperation with regional neighbours.