Citizen reporter
2 minute read
19 Oct 2016
6:01 am

Drought lingers in spring

Citizen reporter

Farm dams have dried up or are low, says the department of agriculture.

A woman pushes a wheelbarrow with water containers from a distribution point in the rural farming town of Senekal in the Free State. Picture: EPA

Many areas of the country are still experiencing the drought that began in the 2015 summer, although it started before then in some provinces, according to Steve Galane of the department of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

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“Generally, the veld remains poor where livestock is in poor condition, but reasonable in areas where there were interventions, such as provision of feed. Winter crops are in reasonable to good condition. Farm dams have dried up in most areas and the levels of major dams are low in all provinces compared to the previous season. Water restrictions have been implemented in several provinces,” Galane said.

The September 2016 update issued by the Famine Early Warning System Network indicates that while humanitarian assistance is ongoing in parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, funding constraints continue to affect current coverage and will limit it more after December.

“As a result, crisis food insecurity outcomes will likely continue in parts of Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi, Lesotho and Mozambique,” Galane said.

According to the seasonal forecast issued by the South African Weather Service on September 30, it is uncertain whether there will be rainfall in late spring. Towards mid-summer the rainfall is expected to be above normal, but the level of uncertainty remains high.

Mostly warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected during late-spring to mid-summer.

“Dryland summer crop farmers should wait for sufficient moisture before planting and stay within the normal planting window. They are also advised to be conservative in the area being planted. In addition, they should consider drought-tolerant cultivars, including sorghum and maize where possible.

“Irrigation farmers should reduce the planting area in line with water restrictions in their areas,” Galane cautioned.

Livestock farmers are advised to continue to have precautionary measures in place such as additional feed, enough water points and shelter during bad weather.

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The risk of veld fires remains high. Farmers are encouraged to maintain firebreaks and adhere to veld fire warnings. Episodes of localised flooding resulting from thunderstorms are likely.