Agricultural industry association Agri SA has launched a water desk that will be dedicated to helping farmers across the country get equitable access to water, it said on Friday.
Several policy proposals could increase the cost of water and reduce the amounts available to agricultural users, Agri SA said in a statement.
It said it was therefore crucial that engagement started early, so there could be a fair outcome.
Farmers were already dealing with several challenges that included severe drought and climate change, it added.
The association is made up of 23 commodity organisations (for agronomy, animal production and horticulture), nine provincial Agri SA organisations, corporate members and around 1 000 farmer associations.
The purpose of the water desk was to focus on policies and proposals, such as the draft National Water and Sanitation Master Plan and the National Water Resource Strategy.
‘Fast-changing policy environment’
The desk would also give input on water research priorities and gather insight from top water experts.
Janse Rabie, an environmental lawyer who heads the association’s natural resources centre of excellence, will lead the desk alongside water scientist Gregory Smith.
“The Agri SA water desk will be a one-stop shop for Agri SA members, where they can get up-to-date information and advice on all things water related,” said Rabie.
“Given the complexity of water rights and the fast-changing policy environment, we believe that a dedicated water desk is the best way to enable agricultural water users to stay abreast of all legal developments which will have an impact on the way they farm and do business.”
Rabie previously said that many farmers in the Western Cape had to make do with almost none of their allocated water since January this year, because of nationally-imposed and strictly-enforced water restrictions.
He said this had led to hardships in the community, which included job losses for seasonal farm workers.