Farmers to adapt to climate change

2016-11-09 06:01

Agricultural experts have urged farmers to prepare for the future by improving their farming systems to survive future droughts.

Encouragement that farmers be proactive was made at the World Food Day commemoration in Thaba Nchu on Monday, 31 October. This year’s theme, “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too,” highlights how food and agriculture need to adapt to climate change in order to feed a population in a sustainable way.

This follows the findings that South Africa is facing serious food shortages due to the widespread severe drought.

According to Takisi Masiteng, district services general manager of the Department of Agriculture, out of the population of 2,7 million in the Free State, about 700 000 people have no food security.

Masiteng said an additional R31 million had been allocated by the department to help farmers across all sectors with drought relief. He said the funds were also meant to assist commercial and emerging farmers.

Masiteng said a vegetable garden development programme, Hlasela Tlala ka Dira-tswana, was helping households to alleviate the food security challenge in the Free State and also provided hope to communities for producing their own nutrition.

According to the department, Thaba Nchu, Qwaqwa and Xhariep were some of the three major towns battling with water challenges.

Lewis Hove, regional conservation agriculture coordinator at the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), said in view of the severity of the drought, farmers had to cultivate the right crops and breed the right animals which could withstand drought in the future.

“Compared to other countries, South Africa remains the hardest hit by the current drought and has the highest number of livestock lost to drought last year,” said Hove.

Water harvesting and proper utilisation of water are some of the methods Hove hinted farmers needed to explore to survive the future drought, predicting drought would reoccur in the next three years.

Shadrack Mbhele of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) appealed to government to assist farmers with penetrating the agricultural processing and manufacturing sector.

The department handed over food parcels and wheelbarrows to 100 households.

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