Showers slash tomato harvest

TOMATO farmers in Limpopo say they have lost between R10million and R50million as heavy rains continue to wreak havoc on their crops.

Tomato Growers Association chairperson Walter Moketle said yesterday that most of the tomatoes had failed to survive the hail, rain and cold showers as they were sensitive to excessive water.

"We are dealing with water that we need for the day-to-day running of our farming," Moketle said.

Farmers were initially relieved "but we are now faced with losses that have become too much".

Moketle said a study had shown that more than three-quarters of the tomato crop would not make it to market.

The tomato farmers currently supply countries like Botswana and Mozambique and companies like Tiger Brands. According to the association, few farmers will manage to harvest their crops. Experts have warned that some crops may experience difficulties as the rate of climate change increases.

Moketle said seasonal workers, who were hired during harvesting, would also suffer losses.

Joe Gondo of the National African Farmers Union said a shortage and possible price increases could occur.