Rain brings hope to farmers in Central and Klein Karoo

Rain brings hope to farmers in Central and Klein Karoo
Farmers in the Williston area have recorded between 30mm to 40mm of rain. Photo: Peter Schoeman
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The widespread rain that had been falling over large parts of South Africa since Thursday, 21 October, has brought relief to many farmers.

Coetzee Reitz, manager of Williston Meat Co-operative, said he had received reports of between 20mm to 79mm of rain over various parts of the drought-stricken Karoo, including the Pofadder, Hantam, Calvinia, Beaufort West, Victoria West, Loeriesfontein and Prieska areas, with an average of 30mm to 40mm recorded on farms in the Williston district.

The South African Weather Service reported only 2mm of rain for Sutherland and Springbok, and 6mm for Nieuwoudtville, whereas up to 48mm was recorded in Pofadder, 33mm in Brandvlei and 37mm in Upington.

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In the Klein Karoo, 41mm of rain was recorded in Oudtshoorn and 57mm in Ladismith.

Reitz said he was extremely grateful for every drop of rain, as several parts of the Karoo had been battling with below-average rainfall for the past nine years, and most of the area’s rain usually fell between March and April.

“The rain is wonderful, but what is even more impressive is the way in which it is changing people. You can say it is actually raining hope, when you see how it is lifting people’s spirits, and how they become more sociable and talkative,” Reitz said.

The Williston area, in particular, has had a long-term average of 180mm of rain per year, so another three to four occurrences of rainfall would be necessary to break the drought.

“The weather has cleared this morning, but another cold front is forecast to move in by [next] Wednesday,” Reitz said.

Charles Muller, a farmer near Merweville, said it was the best rainfall the area had received since 2014.

“This rain is incredibly valuable. Some farmers have said that they were going to stop farming by December and now everybody wants to farm again. We [would] need good follow-up rain every two weeks from now to break what has become the longest drought ever.”

In the Eastern Cape, 21mm of rain was recorded in Willowmore and 10mm in Joubertina. Most of the other districts in the region recorded fewer than 4mm.

André Hamman, a farmer near Kareedouw, recorded about 3mm of rain, which was less than what was forecast. However, Hamman said he was extremely thankful as the western parts of the Eastern Cape had been receiving below-average rainfall for a number of years.

“We are nearing the end of our rainfall season and have not received enough rain to replenish our water reserves, so this is a bonus. The world looks green and does not reflect our dire need. We have had some floods in November in the past, and will hopefully receive some more rain this summer.”

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