As South Africa continues to battle the worst drought in more than two decades, small farmers in Limpopo are reporting that hundreds of chickens have already fallen victim to the rising heat in a turn that could financially ruin farmers and leave households hungry.
“Over the past two months, I have lost more than 400 chickens because of the scorching heat,” said Johanna Mulaudzi, a chicken farmer living near Thohoyandou in northern Limpopo.
“This heat is really affecting us as chicken farmers,” he added. “If one does not have proper infrastructures to deal with this kind of heat, all their chickens will eventually die.”
South Africa continues to be in the grips of the worst drought to hit the country since 1992 and 2.7 million households have already been affected, according to a recent statement by Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
By 1 November, the Department of Water Affairs have declared the drought a disaster in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Less than a week later, Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha announced that the provincial executive council had declared the drought a disaster in that province as well.
“A thorough assessment of the drought situation has found that all district and local municipalities in Limpopo are facing the worst drought conditions recorded in years,” said Mathabatha in a statement. “The declaration will assist the Government to unlock the necessary resources to assist the affected communities.”
The Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has set aside R3 million to assist affected farmers like Mulaudzi with feed.
The department also recently hosted a seminar near Thohoyandou to advise farmers on how to farm in the heat without losing profits. According to one of the department’s senior advisors Hollic Netshirungulu, the event was prompted by numerous complaints from chicken farmers in the area that reported suffering significant loses due to the drought.
Chicken and livestock farmers are not the only ones hard hit. Millicent Ramasimu said she used to support her family selling vegetables from her back garden. The drought has killed her crop and she says it has become difficult to support her family.
The drought has already begun to push up maize prices due to decreased production, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.
Local pastor Prince Ramahala has joined other religious leaders and even Mokonyane in asking South Africans to pray for rain. – Health-e News.