Baard said that most of his farmer friends operated with reduced livestock numbers. Grazing land has turned into sandy patches.
Even though he has come to terms with the “new normal”‚ he remains hopeful that the rain will return.
“If a farmer loses his hope‚ he is dead.”
Both of the farmers are thankful to Burre Burger‚ a resident from Vredendal‚ who took it upon himself to help bring relief to some of the desperate farmers. That is how the organisation Droogte Hulp came into being in 2017.
“This picture of devastation by the drought is playing throughout the country. It is heartbreaking‚ sore‚ you are angry. You have so many emotions going through you when you realise the scale of devastation brought on by the drought. Farmers are losing a lot as a result of this drought.
“[Droogte Hulp] started out small and to date we have spent R30-mllion in funds on animal feed and transportation as well as food parcels to farm workers‚” he said.
Burger himself is not one to let the dry land make him loose focus. He keeps encouraging farmers whenever he meets them.
“We told the farmers that we aren’t delivering feed‚ we are delivering hope to people. We see every day as a day closer to when it will rain again.”
Chief Economist for AgriSA‚ Hamlet Hlomendlini‚ said recent stats from ABSA’s Agri Trends‚ showed the expected commercial production of wheat in South Africa was about 1.4-million tons‚ almost 23% less than the previous season. The decline was as a result of poorer than expected yields‚ especially in the Swartland area it the Western Cape‚ which is the main producing area.
“On the other side‚ total maize area planted estimate is 2.3-million hectares‚ less than the previous season area of 2.62-million hectares. It is said that producers had initially intended on planting 2.47-million hectares‚ but due to very warm weather and lower than expected rainfall in the western parts of South Africa’s maize belt‚ some farmers were not able to sow their intended area.
“Given the current situation in the Western Cape‚ food price inflation is projected to average 5.2 percent in 2018‚ and 6.0 percent in 2019. This will mostly be driven by low production of wheat which is expected to play a significant role in food price inflation as South Africa is already a net importer thereof‚” said Hlomendlini.
The organisation’s head of natural resources‚ Janse Rabie‚ said low rainfall in the Western Cape was a problem as early as 2015. But the effects were felt in other provinces such as the Eastern and Northern Cape.
Western Cape is agriculturally known for its wine producing sector as well as table grapes. The Northern Cape is known for its livestock particularly sheep. And the Eastern Cape is also known for livestock‚ Rabie said.