NEWS Farm sector braces for 16+% wage hike F armers paying their workers at the current Sectoral Determination rate face the prospect of two wage increases, totalling 16,32% next year if they are to remain within the bounds of the law. The first increase kicks in on 1 March when the next raise in the current sectoral determi- nation scheme becomes applicable. This raises the minimum hourly wage to R16.92 (and weekly and monthly rates accordingly). The second increase kicks in two months later when the proposed national minimum wage of R3 500 monthly becomes law. In the case of farm workers this will aggregate an increase of a further 8,35% to R18-00 per hour. The question of minimum wages for farm workers is hotly debatable because of the vast difference in total emoluments received by workers, which may include free or subsidised food, housing, transport and education etc, as well as other benefits on farms owned and run by enlightened farmers. Rainfall: A dry summer ahead A lthough October's total rainfall in Gauteng was higher than the that of the same month in last year's super-wet summer, the total rainfall in September, and to the middle of November, was considerably less than for the same periods last year. Thus, you would be correct if you concluded that Gautengers are in for a drier season this year. This observation is borne out by weather scientists who are observing a mild La Nina effect in the central and southern Pacific Ocean which, trends show, lead to drier weather in the southern hemisphere generally. A La Nina effect is declared when ocean surface tempera- tures in the Pacific are higher than normal, which, in association with other trends in wind and currents, affect the uptake of moisture into the atmosphere and thus precipitation across the globe, particularly over South America, southern and central 6 www.sasmallholder.co.za Africa and Australasia. The opposite effect is an El Nino, when ocean surface temperatures are lower than average, and result in higher than normal rainfall.