National 4.8.2016 07:15 am

Expect a hot dry spring next month

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

On the other side of the coin, cold spells and localised flooding continue to be expected towards the end of winter.

With spring around the corner, only the West Coast is exempt from below-normal rainfall during the season, the National Agro-meteorological Committee (NAC) has warned.

And despite dry conditions and areas still suffering drought conditions, hotter-than-normal temperatures are expected during spring. But the NAC said that in the western parts, maximum temperatures were expected to be below normal.

“There is a large amount of uncertainty which direction rainfall may take in the coming seasons.”

As the drought in provinces continued, it was exacerbated by the normally dry winter conditions, especially in summer rainfall areas.

The committee cautioned farmers to keep saving water and other resources, as livestock were reportedly in “reasonable to poor condition” – but grazing was feeling the pressure.

In addition to stocking up on additional feed for animals, farmers also had to consider reducing the number of their cattle and make sure there were enough water points and places of shelter for the livestock. Farmers also had to be wary of outbreaks of veld fires and reduce the risk by building firebreaks.

On the other side of the coin, cold spells and localised flooding continue to be expected towards the end of winter.

According to banking giant Absa, prices of beef have improved in the domestic market, but mutton prices weakened due to higher slaughtering numbers. Pork prices were mixed and poultry prices dropped as supply was in abundance.

This meant poultry farmers had to lower their prices to stay competitive. The rest of southern Africa was also suffering under the same climate conditions. According to the June Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report, following an El Niño-induced drought, southern Africa was experiencing one of its poorest harvests in recent years, and an upsurge in households facing acute food insecurity.

FEWS NET estimated that a higher than normal number of people were currently facing acute food insecurity and about 17 million people would be in crisis between January and March next year. This required immediate assistance.

At the height of the harvest period, many poor households in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Lesotho and Swaziland faced food “consumption gaps” because they had not produced much staple.

– denisew@citizen.co.za

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