AgriSA, South Africa’s agricultural industry body, is in the process of approaching banks, agribusiness and government to US $220m to help farmers hit by severe drought. This is after it was seen how farmers have faced dry conditions over most of the nation for the last year, even as they are still recovering from a disastrous El Nino-induced drought in 2015.
Omri van Zyl, AgriSA’s boss said that they are almost at their wit’s end with nowhere else to turn to. Van Zyl further added that the group will also speak to the government’s National Disaster Management agency to get access to the contingency reserves.
According to Van Zyl, the drought is more of a national emergency because it is going to have an impact directly on consumer prices. This, he says, directly correlates with food affordability and as such willnegatively impact on the farmers on the land.
A survey of producers showed that 31,000 jobs and US $510m in potential revenue were lost since January last year because of drought. Moreover, white maize prices are just off a near two-year peak last week.
Head of producers body Grain SA Jannie de Villiers said that the farmers didn’t get enough to recuperate in 2016 so the grain sector is in a lot worse financial situation than it was. He further emphasized that following this, the body’s ability to absorb the current drought is under pressure.
In early estimates for the 2018/2019 season, farmers have planted around 95% of the country’s yellow maize, which is mainly used in animal feed, and between 70 to 80% of the white maize, pushing prices higher.
South Africa’s official Crop Estimates Committee, which in October estimated farmers would plant 2.448m hectares of maize in the 2018/2019 season, is expected to release the preliminary area planted estimates on Jan. 29.