El Niño weakening, but rain stays away

Although El Niño has been showing signs of weakening, high temperatures and late rains in most of the Western Cape could have had an effect on winter grain and fodder production, according to a statement issued by Western Cape Agri.

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Western Cape Agri CEO, Carl Opperman, said the recent drought had a ripple effect on the economy. He added that food prices and food inflation were rising, while agriculture’s debt-to-asset ratio was becoming more negative.

West coast
Winter grain producers on the West Coast, which had been declared a drought disaster area, were worried because they had received little to no rain during May. Most of the wheat planted in this area had not germinated, while the small percentages of wheat and canola that had emerged were scorched to death.

Livestock farmers are also under severe pressure. Lupins, oats and triticale planted for fodder were emerging, but were also being scorched by the heat. Many sheep and cattle farmers in this area had sold off all their animals.

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Winter grain producers in the Swartland also expressed concern about the absence of rain. Canola that had emerged was starting to wilt, while the wheat was in dire need of water to survive. Pastures that had been sown were stressed due to a lack of moisture, making it difficult for livestock farmers to provide for their animals.

Southern Cape
While large parts of the country were battling a severe drought, the Southern Cape received good rain. However, winter grain producers had not received any rain since they started planting in April.

Central Karoo
Producers in the Central Karoo were in the same predicament as many other producers in the Western Cape, and rain was desperately needed. Cornie Swart, president of Agri Western Cape, said farmers had incurred large expenses to sow crops.

“Our crops are suffering. Producers, who have not yet planted, simply do not have enough capital this year. Last year’s bad harvest has depleted our capital,” said Swart.