South Africa

Agriculture dept assessing severity of drought on SA crop yield

Disasters crops

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said it is assessing the severity of the El Nino-induced drought and its impact on crop yields and the financial status of farmers.

The department’s spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said the recent Crop Estimates Committee showed that South Africa’s 2023/24 summer grain and oilseed production could fall by 21% year-on-year to 15,2 million tonnes.

Drought

“This will still be sufficient for domestic needs, but the neighbouring countries in the regions have been hit hard and may experience food insecurity. There are also emerging feed challenges for livestock farmers.

“Fortunately, the vegetable and fruit supplies are reasonably decent, and prices should be moderate in the near future,” Ngcobo said.

Ngcobo said the department has also briefed the cabinet about the difficulties presented by the drought and some measures are being considered to mitigate the impact and also ensures the business continuity of farmers.

“The minister [Thoko Didiza] will soon meet with leaders of organised agriculture, relevant departments and MECs from all provinces to assess the scale of the full impact in various regions. This insight will help refine the government’s response approach to the drought.”

ALSO READ: Load shedding threatening food security in SA

Challenges

South Africa’s agricultural sector has endured multiple challenges throughout 2023, with load shedding having a huge impact on agricultural production halting farming operations.

Farmers will have also to make a plan to get through winter weather following a summer season of little rain and extreme heatwaves.

Farmers indaba

Meanwhile, Didiza is expected to attend the Mzansi Young Farmers Indaba in Pretoria on Thursday.

Ngcobo said the Indaba marks a pivotal moment in the journey of South African agriculture.

“This is where the youth take centre stage in co-creating the new face of farming. It is a testament to the unwavering spirit and dedication of the next generation of farmers and agripreneurs who are shaping the future of our nation’s agricultural landscape,” Ngcobo said.

ALSO READ: SA farmers set to face a tough winter