In­no­va­tion and pa­tience key in drought strug­gle

The Poultry Bulletin - - LOCAL NEWS -

Areal­ity faced by SA’S agri­cul­tural in­dus­try is that the coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­vere drought, pos­si­bly the worst in the last three decades. The im­pact is cat­a­strophic. The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries re­cently de­clared Kwazulu-na­tal and the Free State as dis­as­ter ar­eas, with Mpumalanga and Lim­popo ex­pected to fol­low soon.

“Our farming com­mu­nity needs to face this re­al­ity and ac­cept that change is needed in their ap­proach to farming. Smart Farming is the new buzz­word, and may just be the only an­swer for a coun­try ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­vere drought,” says Man­fred Venter, an Agri­cul­tural Econ­o­mist at Syn­genta SA.

Some pre­dict that the first real rains will only come mid-de­cem­ber. In th­ese chal­leng­ing times, the farming com­mu­nity’s proud her­itage is at stake while smaller grow­ers and their fam­i­lies will ex­pe­ri­ence even harder times.

Wandile Sihlobo, Agri­cul­tural Econ­o­mist for Grain SA said in a re­cent re­port that sum­mer crops such as soy­beans, maize and sug­ar­cane, as well as live­stock farming will be hard­est hit by the drought, which will con­trib­ute to an in­crease in food prices.

Sihlobo adds that with the se­vere crop fail­ure ear­lier in the year, grow­ers are un­der even greater strain. The knockon ef­fect of crop fail­ure could also give rise to a pop­u­la­tion drift from ru­ral ar­eas into the cities, farm labour lay-offs and farm clo­sures, as well as an in­creased in­debt­ed­ness in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.¡

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