Recent rain does little to help KZN farmers

2014-10-16 00:00

THE recent rainfall across KwaZulu-Natal has done little to rescue farmers from the looming drought crisis.

Unseasonal high temperatures and low rainfall have resulted in a crisis that could see the province heading deeper into drought.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, farmers said they are desperate for more rain.

“The recent rain was nothing as it just wet the surface of the soil. It did not penetrate the ground properly. We need as much rain as God can give us,” said Mike Paulton of the Pietermaritzburg Farmers’ Market.

“Vegetables and sugarcane are not growing properly due to the dry season. The level of the dams is dropping. We need 100 times more rain than what we got.”

This was echoed by Estcourt’s Alec Rohrs, who said the low rainfall season is devastating. “Thank God for the beautiful rain after such a long time. We desperately need it, but it was not enough. It must come regularly,” said Rohrs.

He added that the winter was “tough” and the grass was growing very slowly, which affected his cattle.

Ixopo’s Skimps Knight said he had seen evidence of wildlife dying.

“I found three nyala and two bushbuck dead because of the drought. There was not much water and the grass was not growing. My crops are starting to get green and are growing. The more rain, the better,” said Knight.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the water level at main dams under the Umgeni system, which supply Durban, the Midlands and northern part of Ugu have dropped.

“The trend at Midmar, Albert Falls, Hazelmere and Inanda dams is that they have lost two percent of water. The recent rain had no significant or positive impact on the water levels,” said Harichunder.

He said despite the drop, the dams are in a “healthy” state. He said the middle South Coast is still a concern. “We are in a difficult period and we still appeal to consumers to use water sparingly.”

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