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Smart technology revolutionises fruit farming

A smart application is using satellite technology to help farmers in the fruit producing areas of the Western Cape estimate how much water their crops need.

The Fruitlook online application, launched in May last year, has mapped 220 000 hectares of farmland in the fruit producing area stretching from Vredendal in the west coast to Montagu/Bonnievale in the east and De Doorns in the north of the province, giving farmers accurate and reliable information on the water needs of their crops, field by field.

Delivering her State of the Province Address on Friday, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said farmers no longer had to physically estimate how much water their crops needed, thanks to the application.

“Using only satellite and weather data, we tell farmers how much water their crops used in the previous week, whether the crops experienced any water deficiencies and the actual biomass produced.

“In total, Fruitlook offers farmers nine types of information on their crop growth, from a vegetation index showing how vigorously the crop is growing, to a leaf area index showing the size of leaves versus the amount of visible soil,” she said.

Premier Zille said the number of crop fields her government was helping farmers monitor had grown from just under 20 000 hectares in 2012 to an estimated 90 000 hectares this year.

“The industry is being revolutionised,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape government is launching a Cape Investor Centre in an effort to eliminate the impact of red tape on potential investments into the province.

The centre will be a one-stop-shop for investors, enabling them to complete all regulatory requirements under one roof, with the assistance of a single relationship manager.

Premier Zille said the province, which set up a Red Tape unit seven years ago to eliminate the impact of red tape on new investments and on small businesses, was hoping to unlock R1 billion in savings from eliminating unnecessary red tape.

“Cabinet has further resolved that Regulatory Impact Assessments must be done for new legislation and significant policies, so that we don’t unintentionally create new red tape barriers that stifle growth,” she said.

The Premier said since the start of this term, they have secured over R5.9 billion worth of investments for the Western Cape through the economic development and investment agency, Wesgro.

“This resulted in 1 865 new jobs from 2014 to 2016. We have also closed a total of 25 trade deals to the value of R8.6 billion since 2014, creating 662 new jobs,” she added.

Premier Zille said another important indicator of economic progress in the province was the growth in building plan approvals and increase in property value in the province.

“The value of buildings completed in Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain has increased substantially since 2007 from R115 million to almost R961 million. And amazingly, 56% of all bonds registered by residents of Gauteng during the past year were for properties in the Western Cape,” she said – TLM




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