Uncontrolled grazing hurting North West farmers

2015-08-05 07:42

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Johannesburg – While drought was affecting some emerging farmers in North West, the biggest problem was uncontrolled grazing, the African Farmers Association of South Africa [Afasa] said.

“Mostly it is because of uncontrolled grazing in communal areas, that is the biggest problem,” Afasa North West president Gideon Morule said.

While there was drought, it was not as bad as in other years, like in 2012-2013.

He estimated that about 80% of emerging farmers were affected by the drought. There were an estimated 10 000 emerging farmers in the province, which included those farming crops, livestock, vegetables, and poultry.

Madikwe and areas around Zeerust and Groot Mariko were the hardest hit. Around Mahikeng and Ramatlabana it was “not so bad”. 

“Those farmers who depend on grass only [for cattle feed] are suffering the most. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s worrying. Cattle are not dying like they used to, but farmers are struggling.”

He said government was providing support, but it was in drips and drabs.
“They help farmer A, but not farmer B. It’s not well structured.”

North West agriculture department spokesperson Thandiwe Moripe said she was not aware of any structured programme in place to help farmers.

Morule said another problem facing these farmers was that they lacked the means to plough their land. This resulted in bush encroachment, which reduced arable land and used up ground water.

“What we need is a concerted effort to de-bush most of the areas, which used to be land and try to plant the pastures there.”

The average size of an emerging farmer’s land was about 300 hectares. Those farming with crops had up to 100 hectares, and cattle farmers between 200 and 2 000 hectares.

For a cattle farmer, 300 hectares would allow for only 30 breeding cows, which would not generate enough income for himself and his workers. Crop farmers would need about 300 hectares to break even, he said.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  drought  |  farming

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