Flower seller feel­ing the ef­fect

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Guy Rogers Pho­to­graph: WERNER HILLS

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

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