Cows are seen in a farm in Azul, in Buenos Aires
DURBAN - The red  Meat Producers Organisation has assured South Africans that there would  be no shortages over the festive season despite the drought that has ripped havoc in some sections of the country.   

The organisation's chief executive Gerhard Schutte said there would be no shortages or price hikes as the country had well developed feed-lot mechanism to cope with the drought in the medium and long term.

Schutte said a higher supply would ensure good supply into the new year. 

“This drought is coming over the last two-three years,” Schutte said. “Producer prices for lamb is down by 11 percent and beef producer prices are 5 percent lower. That is good news for consumers.” 

The assurances come as the country experiences difficult rain patterns with the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces the hardest hit.

Schutte said producers had cut down 20 percent down on slaughtering resulting in R16 billion loss on turnover.  

Experts say the drought could last through to March as land preparation and planting of summer crops got underway. 

The Washington-based institution Famine Early Warning Systems Network(FEWS NET) forecast said its seasonal forecasts indicated enhanced chances of below average rainfall totals, raising concerns on the backdrop of the severe drought of the 2018-19 season. 

The Department of Water and Sanitation’s State of Reservoirs Report this week said dams levels currently stood at 60 percent compared to 69 percent during the corresponding period last year.

This month AgriSA reported that real agricultural output fell 9.2 in the first half of the year compared to the similar period last year.

AgriSA said livestock farmers faced difficulties that included rising feed prices resulting from the dry planting season and the food and mouth disease outbreak in the first quarter

Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) said that the 2018/19 production season was grim and marred by drought for summer crops and foot-and-mouth disease.

Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said some countries had already banned  meat exports from South Africa. 

Sihlobo said the next few weeks would be crucial for the industry.

“I think the most most important story to watch on from the end of January 2020 going forward was that there was a likelihood of below normal rainfall in South Africa all across which might have a negative impact on agricultural production crops and thereafter the livestock sector,” said Sihlobo.    

BUSINESS REPORT