Drought continues to wreak havoc

Like many other southern African countries, many parts of the country including Mpumalanga continue to experience harsh weather conditions and the worst drought in decades.

As a result crops have died due to extreme heat and little rainfall, and food prices are expected to rise. The provincial coordinator of Grain South Africa, Mr Jerry Mthombothi, said about 85 to 90 per cent of crops in the province totally withered due to the drought. He added
that there is nothing farmers can do to solve the situation as they don’t even have crop insurance.

“Many have lost their crops and livestock, many farm workers have also lost their jobs,” he said. Mthombothi added that people must be prepared for an increase in food prices, especially mealie meal, sunflower products and beans.

He urged farmers not to risk any more by ploughing because it is already late and they must wait for the next ploughing season which starts in October. Livestock farmers have also been affected with many of them being compelled to slaughter or sell their already-weak animals.
Last November the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs announced that it had set aside R33 million for disaster relief for drought-stricken livestock farmers in the province.

Ms Zanele Shabangu, spokesperson for the department, said distribution of water tankers, fodder and vitamins to affected farmers had already begun. “We have started with the distribution of water tankers, fodder and vitamins to farmers who registered for this assistance,” she said.

Shabangu added the department had received no formal complaints of animals which died of hunger
or malnutrition.

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