Gardening sector struggles as drought cuts business

2017-11-22 06:02

AS Nelson Mandela Bay’s dam levels continue to drop, the landscaping and gardening sector has been negatively affected by what has been described as one the worst droughts to hit the province.

Bruce Basson, owner of Green Acres Landscaping, said it has been extremely difficult for gardening businesses, especially with the current water restrictions in place.

“It has far-reaching effects for the entire industry, not only garden centres – it affects the livelihoods as well,” the horticulturist said.

Basson said his company has reported a retail drop in turnover of approximately 70%, which is huge for any business. “Our biggest plight is that when the municipality introduced the heavy water regulations, it resulted in some residents cutting back on gardens, which really affected the gardening industry.

“Yes, now and then we do get gardening tenders from the odd customers who have boreholes and we also water-wise gardens – as we try and encourage people to go for water-wise plants, but it’s not enough work.”

He said clients no longer purchased as many seedlings and for many‚ a perfect lawn is no longer a priority.

“This is extremely worrying and something needs to be done to get the gardening industry back on track.” Ten years ago when the city experienced its previous drought, Basson had to close down his nursery, which had been operational for 12 years.

“It hurts. I lost a lot of money,” he said, adding that there were no customers coming in and sales dried up.

“I had to close the doors and walk away.”

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the recent opening of the borehole water source in the Motherwell cemetery was one of the municipality’s ways of trying to elevate the negative impact of the water restrictions to communities and businesses, more especially businesses that use water as a critical part of their operations.

The current yield for the Motherwell Groundwater Point is 20 million litres of water per day.

Responding to restrictions or penalties with regards to water usage for car washes, hairdressing salons, to name a few, Mniki said, “The greater the water usage the more you will pay.

“Such companies are aware and are already feeling the pinch to such an extent some have even come up with their own ways of harvesting rain water to mitigate the negative effect on their budgets,” Mniki said.

He added that the city was also looking at other potential groundwater explorations inside the municipal boundaries to find additional water sources.

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