Food security under threat as farmers choke under continuing dought
The rains may have brought relief after the heat in some parts of the country, but there were still serious drought concerns, especially among the farming community.
Agri SA deputy executive director Christo van der Rheede warned that if the rain situation doesn’t improve, farmers would find it difficult to maintain food security.
“They will also cull most of their livestock and the meat prices will rise,” warned Van der Rheede.
He said wildlife was also a major concern, especially after reports of elephant deaths in Zimbabwe.
“Wildlife in the Northern Cape is especially under threat, animals are even being moved to places they can get water,” he said.
Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said that it takes five to seven years to recover from a drought.
Ratau said a multi-department effort to assist farmers would be unleashed when the drought reached a disaster level.
He said the heat, which was causing evaporation at an alarming rate, was a contributing factor to the dwindling dam levels.
According to the SA Weather Service, southern African farmers and other water stakeholders need to prepare for impacts associated with the likelihood of below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures this summer.
“Furthermore, there is low soil moisture currently available to support crop planting and growth. If these conditions persist, they are likely to impact on available soil moisture, water availability for irrigation and (cause) increased heat stress on livestock,” said the weather service.
It also warned on Monday that the first significant summer rainfall could lead to potential flooding in places.