Cost of SA’s drought

2015-12-09 06:00
Another victim of the drought.

Another victim of the drought.

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THIS dramatic photograph taken in the Muden area over the weekend hammers home the message of the drastic impact of the most serious drought this area, and many other parts of the country, have experienced since 1982.

As this devastating drought shows no signs of ending South Africans are having to face the harsh reality of the impact on many aspects of their day-to-day life. The price of food, meat and vegetables will escalate. The price of other foodstuffs - processed, tinned, frozen, etc., which all require water at some stage in processing, will also increase.

Farmers throughout the country are facing major disasters as animals die, crops cannot be planted and the rains just do not come. In KwaZulu-Natal alone, more than 40 000 cattle have died and serious losses of livestock is being experienced in the emerging sector country wide. Provision of water for livestock is now in a crisis situation because dams, marshes, springs, fountains and boreholes are drying up.

In the heat conditions, cattle consume between 40 and 50 litres water per unit per day, which renders the logistics of water supply very difficult.

This countrywide drought follows after very poor rainfall during the 2014 season in most parts of the country. No planting has yet been possible in the summer rainfall areas and grain prices have already started to rise. Farmers have had to scale down to nucleus herds and high costs are being incurred for feed and water supply.

The maize price has already risen by more than 40%.

Even with normal rainfall figures, it will take commercial producers between three and four seasons to recover economically.

It has a very negative impact on the 1,2 million households that own cattle, sheep and goats and has a serious impact on income and food security.

Millions of rand in drought relief provided by the government is not enough - farmers say far more is required to save their animals and farms. The government intervention programme is aimed at assisting farmers to get animal feed, water and animal medication. It is reported that the R114 million relief funds given by government in KZN to assist farmers had already dried up in some areas on the day it was launched - 5 December.

A spokesman for the KZN Department of Agriculture said it was doing its utmost to help as it had realised the

R114 million was not nearly enough as in actual fact

R2.2 billion was needed.

Predictions for the end of the current El Niño are not encouraging with autumn next year being suggested as cut- off, but hotter than usual temperatures will be experienced.

In the meantime here's hoping and praying that the rain will come soon, and provide the relief which is so desperately needed throughout the country.

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