Farmers face losses as drought worsens

2015-11-12 16:04
A wheat farm in Eendekuil on the West Coast. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

A wheat farm in Eendekuil on the West Coast. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Groot Marico - "Is that a rain cloud, or am I imagining things?" asks Jana du Plessis.

"I'd be thrilled if it is," says her husband, Riaan du Plessis, with a joyless laugh. The flimsy white clouds drifting above this farm are not enough to bring relief, or hope.

Six of the nine provinces, including the North West province where the Du Plessis have a farm, have been hit by drought, with three provinces declared disaster areas. Water restrictions have taken effect in Pretoria, and Johannesburg, where two hospitals had to halt surgeries and dialysis treatment for a day as some suburbs were left without water, according to media reports. An estimated 2.7 million households, about 18% of the population, have been affected by the drought, according to the water ministry.

Normally, the Du Plessis' 55ha farm yields about 700 bales of cattle feed every six weeks. Now, he's barely able to roll 150 bales. Only months ago, they were able to sell cabbages and mealies at their roadside stall, harvested from their vegetable garden. Now the ochre-coloured earth that is about half the size of a football field is dry and hard.

"I don't know what we're going to do," says du Plessis, a phrase he repeats often, as he smokes one cigarette after the other.

Du Plessis, 38, stands on the cracked earth that three weeks ago was the bottom of a reservoir. He bought the farm just eight months ago, spending the life's savings he accumulated driving trucks across the country for 17 years.

If there is no rain by February, he will have to sell the farm and return to the road.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  agriculture  |  weather

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.