Severe Drought Killing Crops, Cattle in South Africa
Posted by feww on January 14, 2016
South Africa paralyzed by worst ever drought, record temperatures
South Africa experienced its driest year on record in 2015, reported the national weather service on Thursday.
Severe drought continues to threaten the vital maize crop impacting the country’s economy.
The rainfall was about two-thirds of the 608mm annual average making 2015 the driest year on record since 1904.
“Weather officials said Sunday that just in the past week there have been 11 fatalities from heatstroke in the North West province after a week of record high temperatures.” Read more…
Drought has reached crisis point
The drought currently being faced by South Africa has reached crisis point. Provincial dam levels are down in all provinces, standing at 57% of capacity as of last week, compared to 82% for the same time last year. This represents a major economic and humanitarian crisis as food security is placed under threat and the livelihood of those in the agricultural sector is placed in jeopardy. This is not a crisis limited to commercial farming, but extends to each and every South African and the poor in particular.
Food crops will be affected across the board. When I visited Hoopstad and Bothaville in the Free State, less than 3% of the maize had been planted, and the planting season has now passed. This is the least number of hectares planted since 1926.
Grain SA said that South Africa imported about 750,000 tonnes of maize to meet the country’s needs. The 2015/16 season will see this increased to 5 million tons of maize. It is expected that we will also have to import about 10 million tons of grain, rice and soya into the country. This would put a heavy burden on our harbour and transport infrastructure while the decline in the Rand over December will increase the cost of this exercise greatly.
Rising food prices, particularly of maize and wheat, which are the staple diet of many South Africans, pose serious problems for the urban and rural poor. The drought will put pressure on food prices, with hikes likely in everything from maize and grains, to meat, poultry and dairy products. Read more…
Drought, record temperatures killing herds
Drought is killing thousands of cattle as well as crops, leading to a rise in food prices.
Cattle farmers in the Free State province are being forced to slaughter or sell their animals at give-away prices because the severe drought, which began in the summer of 2015, has scorched the grass they feed on.
‘‘Thousands of cattle have died. And farmers are now paying high prices for animal feed, making it difficult for farmers to substitute it for grass,’’ said Dr. Jack Armour, Free State’s Agriculture operational manager.