Innovation and patience key in drought struggle
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.¡