Drought: Drastic drop in wool yields looms

2015-11-09 14:41
(File, RSPCA ACT/ via AP)

(File, RSPCA ACT/ via AP)

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Mbombela - Wool yields are set to fall dramatically this year, while water and food shortages are preventing normal sheep breeding, the Mpumalanga National Wool Growers' Association has warned.

And if it doesn't rain soon, farmers may have to sell their sheep at a steep discount.

"We are feeling the impacts of last year's droughts because animals didn't breed properly," said Japie Celliers, vice-chairperson of the association.

"This year we expect the same effects. We also need clean wool when we shear, but because of the dusty conditions, Mpumalanga's clean yield has decreased from 64% to 58%."

"If we don't receive rain, farmers may have to sell off their animals at below normal prices," he added.

Mpumalanga is one of five provinces that have been declared drought-stricken disaster areas and will submit a disaster funding request to the National Disaster Management Centre.

The other provinces are Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo.

Mpumalanga contributes approximately 4.5 million kilogrammes of wool per year, or 10% of South Africa’s overall production.

"The drought will not only affect farmers, but every single person in the country and the economy as a whole," Celliers said.

In the meantime, strict water restrictions remain in place around the capital of Mbombela after the Crocodile River, which supplies most of the water to farms and residential areas in the area, stopped flowing.

A ban has been placed on watering gardens, and includes municipal gardens.

"This is required to meet domestic needs, international obligations and the environmental sustainability of the Crocodile River," Mbombela municipal manager Noko Seanego explained.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  weather  |  drought

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