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Rain welcome, but drought-stricken Northern Cape needs more


Agri organisation has advised that farmers in the Province still need drought assistance

WHILE many areas of the Northern Cape have received good rainfall since January 1, more rains are needed in order to break the devastating effect of the drought.

Agri-Northern Cape president Nicol Jansen said on Tuesday that most areas in the Province received rain, with the exception of Springbok and certain areas in the Namakwa District.

“Areas in the Province have recorded between 20 to 100 millimetres of rain since the beginning of the year. It is a promising start to the year, although areas that have experienced several years of drought will need more rain up until March to repair widespread damage,” said Jansen.

He added that farmers still required drought assistance.

“Hopefully, if the effect of the drought eases it will have a positive impact on the prices of meat. Farmers will have to build up reserves for their livestock and fodder.”

The Northern Cape MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mase Manopole, welcomed the good rains received in most parts of the Province.

“For the past years, the Province received poor rainfall that negatively impacted on game farming and farming in general. This led to areas, including the Pixley ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and Namakwa districts, being declared drought hot spots,” said Manopole.

“Provincial government set aside R36 million for drought relief purposes in November 2020. Farmers who applied, received assistance in the form of vouchers to procure fodder for their livestock.”

The MEC noted that the recent rains would bring much needed relief to commercial, smallholder and game farmers.

“The department has noted the dry condition of the vegetation in the past months that is conducive to runaway veld fires. Veld fires pose a serious threat to both agriculture, properties, livestock and human beings,” she added.

Manopole stated that, recently, about 100,000 hectares of grazing land around the Frances Baard District Municipality, in particular around Jan Kempdorp and Windsorton, was ravaged by veld fires.

“Meanwhile, the South African Weather Service has forecast that there is a higher likelihood of above normal rainfall over the Northern Cape that will be favourable for the agricultural sector. The good rains will assist in improving the natural vegetation and recovery of the game farming sector that was hit hard by the drought and Covid-19 pandemic,” said Manopole.

She advised farmers in the Province to practise soil and water conservation and to establish good drainage systems.

“As the rain may impact on raisin production, farmers should harvest as quickly as possible in the event of damage that may be caused to crops. Grapes may start rotting if they are left on the trees for too long,” Manopole advised.

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