21 July 2020
While South Africa has evoked its classification of drought as a national disaster, Agri SA’s chairman for economics and trade centre of excellence, Nicol Jansen, warns that the Northern Cape remain on its knees.
“The drought disaster… is threatening the agricultural livelihoods of producers in the province who are net producers of red meat, wool and mohair,” he says, warning that while recent good rains have been a blessing the drought has deepened.
Weathers experts concur, and say in the past few weeks Mzansi received an exceptional amount of winter rainfall and snowfall in areas battered by the drought since 2012, particularly in the Western Cape and Northern Cape.
Johan van den Berg, an agricultural meteorologist, believes that the rainfall was above average and will positively impact the grazing conditions of the Northern Cape once temperatures begin to rise.
“There were some really good rain, more than 100 millimetres in some areas, which is a drastic improvement because those areas were experiencing drought for eight years.”
Van den Berg explains to Food For Mzansi that even though the Namaqua district of the Northern Cape received adequate rainfall, the northern parts of the province actually received very little rain this season.
Meanwhile Jansen adds that the northern parts of the Northern Cape only received 10% of the province’s total winter rainfall, while 90% of the western part falls within a summer rainfall season. This part therefore only expects rain between October 2020 and March 2021.
Jansen says since the drought, the production of meat in the Northern Cape decreased by a whopping 50%. To put this into further perspective, he adds that the province only constitutes 2% of the total South African population, but actually delivers 50% of the country’s red meat production.
“This will have a huge, negative cashflow implication for the producers in the Northern Cape,” says Jansen warning that it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Jansen explains that livestock animals need to feed, and because of the drought most farmers are forced to transport fodder to feed their animals which puts profitability in a constrained position.
“Even when the rain patterns go back to normal and the vegetation recovers, building stock will take time. To build your stock, you need to spare your female sheep for reproduction purposes. Therefore, there will be less production for a long time due to the fact that the stock levels must be rebuilt. That also has a negative cash flow implication for the producer,” he explains.
Source: Food For Mzansi