Flower seller feeling the effect
The protea industry employs about 3,000 people directly and supports about 15,000
Proteas were always a moneyspinner for flower seller Sheila Jayiya, but fires have ravaged her supply chain.
“I always had proteas. Everyone wanted them and they earned me the most money.
“But since the fires it’s very hard to get them,” she said.
Jayiya, 68, said she had been selling flowers outside the First Avenue KWIKSPAR in Walmer for 26 years, relying on stock from a farm outside Port Elizabeth and further afield.
“I put my two children through school with the money I earned selling flowers, especially the proteas. People want them for funerals and their houses, and during the big matches like in the World Cup all the foreigners were here and they wanted them.
“Now, because there are few, they are very expensive.”
She used to be able to buy a bunch of five proteas for R25 but now, when stock did become available, she was lucky if she got three for R30, she said.
“I used to earn R1,000 a week from selling flowers here.
“Now the money is next to nothing.
“I know about climate change and the fires.
“When I see them [fires] on the TV I know it is going to burn the fynbos and soon there will be no proteas left.”
Protea consultant Dr Gerhard Malan said the protea industry employed about 3,000 people directly and supported about 15,000, including depen- dents. The industry was based on more than three million hectares of land, principally in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with businesses focused on fresh-cut, dry-flower and foliage production.
Malan said he agreed that climate change was already resulting in more erratic weather and that this might get worse.
“But I’m not convinced that it will be all bad for the proteas.
“It might be just that different patterns of vegetation and farming will emerge.”
BLOOMING SCARCE: Flower seller Sheila Jayiya, 68, says she has been struggling to get hold of proteas due to the fires