‘Worst drought in more than 80 years’

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Drought1

Reuters.

Cape Town - Western Cape farmers are coming to the aid of their colleagues in the Northern Cape who are in the middle of one of the worst droughts in decades.

Plans are in place to transport donations of animal feed to drought-stricken parts of country – where some farmers have started selling livestock to ease the pressure on grazing.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Transnet has come on board – assisting in the transportation of donations to farmers in the Northern Cape and North West.

The Western Cape has reportedly experienced a good harvest in the past few years, says the department, while livestock farmers in the Northern Cape have been hit hard by the worst drought in the region since the 1930s.

Agri Northern Cape has been worried about the extremely dry weather which persists over large parts of the western and south-western Free State.

Agri Northern Cape’s chief executive Johan van Rensburg said yesterday they were “still in crisis” with some areas in the province having experienced no rainfall since the beginning of last year.

“We are just very grateful for the efforts the farmers are making,” Van Rensburg said. Last week Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Gerrit van Rensburg, Transnet representatives and Agri Western Cape held a meeting to organise the movement of donations of animal feed.

They had initially run into a few hiccups but Van Rensburg had approached Transnet last year for assistance in transporting the goods.

“Transnet pledged a train which will transport the feed for free,” said the department.

Four collection points have been identified where local farmers can drop off donations including: Swellendam and Rietpoel stations in the Southern Cape; and Rust and Poels Stations on the West Coast.

Agri Western Cape will arrange with farmers to bring donations to these collection points.

More meetings will be held later this month for Transnet to assign the relevant kind of transport.

So far farmers in the north have not received financial assistance from local government.

If the drought persists it could have repercussions on the price of meat.

Van Rensburg invited all Western Cape farmers and farmers’ organisation to become involved in this assistance initiative.

“We want to finalise the logistics in January, and hopefully aid will arrive in late January in the two provinces”.

Some farmers have reportedly started selling livestock to ease the pressure on grazing.

While farmers have been planting maize, they need rain.

Jeremy Bezuidenhout, who has a cattle farm north of Kimberley, said they had rain about four weeks ago but nothing since then.

He said the drought had been called a “green drought”.

“When you look at it the grass is green but it’s too short for grazing,” he said.

Farmers north-west of Kimberley were battling.

“We’ll be grateful for any donations we can get,” he said. - Cape Argus


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