Free State livestock areas still dry

The western livestock producing areas of the Free State are still exceedingly dry.

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Free State Agriculture’s operations manager Dr Jack Armour said districts such as Petrusburg and Boshof had not had any rain to speak of so far this season.

“The situation is exacerbated by the fact that submissions were made on 15 August to the provincial government by the Free State provincial agriculture department for R5 million immediate relief funding. The outcome is still awaited, and the province has not been declared a drought disaster area yet,” he said.

Free State Agriculture this week sent an urgent letter to the office of premier Ace Magashule to find out the reason for the hold-up. “The situation can’t continue as is. Although the local agriculture department did its part by compiling all the drought surveys in a detailed report, it seems that nothing has been done so far by the provincial government,” said Armour.

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In the meantime, widespread but isolated showers have been reported in North West, although vast areas in the Vryburg district, such as Piet Plessis, Tosca and Bray, have not had significant rain yet.

North West Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) chairperson Flip le Roux said some 40mm of rain fell in two separate showers on his farm on the Gemsbokvlakte. “We urgently need follow up rains. The past two seasons’ drought has damaged the veld so much we need good, widespread showers for the plants to start growing again, otherwise all the moisture of the two showers on my farm will be lost.”

Northern Cape RPO chairperson James Faber said he was happy to report that the areas seriously affected by veld fires on the Ghaap Plateau in 2012 had received ample rain. Showers of as much as 80mm were also reported in the eastern parts of the province, including Kuruman, Kimberley and Douglas. The Kahalari region in the vicinity of Van Zylsrus and Askham remains very dry. Calvinia in the Hantam region received good rain with showers of 25mm and more. 

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