Drought in the Northern Cape spreads

The drought in the Northern Cape was spreading, said Henk van Wyk, Agri Northern Cape President.

Drought in the Northern Cape spreads
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In an interview with Farmers’ Weekly he said the lack of rain had initially been limited to the greater Namaqualand region, which included municipal districts such as Hantam and Kareeberg, but was now also evident in Brandvlei and Kenhardt.

“My estimation is that as much as five million hectares, containing about 780 000 sheep, even after the drastic reduction in sheep numbers, are affected,” he said.

Van Wyk explained that the long-term annual rainfall on his farm in Calvinia was about 400mm. So far this year only 67mm had been recorded. Last year less than 50% of the annual average fell. The area between Pofadder and Springbok received 12mm between October 2016 and September 2017.

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“It is becoming harder and harder to remain positive. Although this is not the worst drought I have experienced in my time, the impact was so much bigger because of the lack of government support.

Up to now commercial farmers received a total of 50 bags of feed pellets,” he added.

Earlier this month the Namakwa district had again been declared an official disaster area. Van Wyk said this meant that affected farmers could now apply for Land Bank financing at the prime lending rate minus 3% to keep their farms going.

Were it not for support from other farmers, agribusinesses, and South Africans in general, the effect would have been far worse, “but despite the generosity from them the situation cannot continue as is.

We need support from the state that would allow us to continue farming sustainably and profitably in the long term,” Van Wyk added.


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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.