CAPE TOWN - Widespread bird flu combined with the devastating drought in the Western Cape are bringing farmers and workers to their knees.
More than 35,000 jobs are on the line in the agricultural sector, estimated to cost the economy close to R800-million in losses.
And workers on birds farms are suffering equally.
Daniel Kleinbooi has been working on The Duck Farm for years – and he’s worried.
The father of two is not sure whether he’ll still have a job in two months’ time.
The farm was placed under quarantine a month ago because of bird flu.
Only a handful of temporary workers remain after 90 were retrenched.
“It’s going to be difficult. We have children. We have to pay school fees, school uniforms must be bought, bread must be put on the table,” said Daniel Kleinbooi.
Each day the temporary workers face an uncertain future.
“After these three months, I’m not sure what we’re going to do. Where will we get work, where will we live? We’re told government will help us, but we don’t know if that will happen,”The Duck Farm Supervisor Quinton Tiras.
Authorities estimate that more than 2.7 million birds have been culled.
And the drought is not making things any easier in the agricultural sector – with massive job losses also the order of the day.
“About a month and a half back we had estimated 18 000. That figure in terms of projected has now increased to about 36 000, but that is estimated. However, we’ve able to work very closely with the agricultural sector at large Western Cape and AFASA to try to minimize and mitigate the particular impact,” said W Cape Department of Agriculture's Darryl Jacobs .
Meanwhile, the Western Cape government is adamant that despite all the challenges in the agricultural sector, 127,000 jobs have been created since 2014.