Pretoria - Commercial farmers in South Africa on Tuesday painted a grim picture on the country's food security levels amidst a ravaging drought which they said has so far affected more than 37 percent of rural communities.
AgriSA -- a federation of agricultural organisations which consists of nine provincial and 26 commodity organisations -- said its affiliates have raised the alarm over the impact of the drought.
"About 37.5 percent of all rural communities at this stage are affected by the drought. All of us know about the drought which started in 2012-13, and all of us were very relieved when Day Zero in the Western Cape ended and when we had a huge crop of maize," Willem Symington, Agri Northern Cape deputy president and head of the newly established AgriSA's disaster management centre said in Pretoria.
"We are at this stage in a drier spell, a drier climatic period, and accumulative effects of the drought since 2013 notwithstanding the better years in between has left us in a challenging position," he said.
"It is not only on the technical side, as far as farming is concerned, but we are suffering financial constraints as well especially in the crop growing industry. Farmers are under severe financial strain because they have got carry-over debts, the yields per year are less, and they are planting less each year because of the drought conditions. The livestock farming sector is in a very poor position."