Free State Agriculture (FSA) has decided to postpone its application for various districts in the province to officially be declared drought-stricken areas, saying it would wait another 10 or 14 days in the hope of some good rainfall. “We will, however, strictly monitor the conditions during the next two weeks, constantly keeping in touch with district agricultural associations, and then act accordingly,” said Dirk van Rensburg, chairperson of FSA’s resource conservation committee. Representations made by district agricultural associations in the central and eastern Free State highlighted the desperate conditions throughout the province. The FSA then conducted a survey on the drought situation in all 20 member regions, and the results were discussed in Bloemfontein with Dr TJ Masiteng of the Free State Department of Agriculture drought relief committee. “At this stage, conditions are deteriorating so rapidly throughout the province that it is becoming very hard to exclude any regions that are better off. Even the southern part, where the situation is still a little better due to good rainfall early in the season, is fast heading for disaster,” Van Rensburg said. According to Van Rensburg, livestock are still in good condition, but rain is critically needed for the planting of winter grazing. L ast week TAU SA’s northern branch warned its members to prepare for a potentially devastating winter drought. “Grazing is almost non-existent, water levels are getting low now and streams are not flowing. In general we haven’t had any rain since the beginning of the year and the heat is very severe,” said Dries Joubert, chairperson of TAU SA North. While vegetable production was unlikely to decline significantly, he said maize and wheat production would be affected if the dry conditions persisted. The latest report from the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) on production estimates for the 2006/07 summer grains indicate the area under planting for maize decreased from about 2,7 million hectares, predicted in January, to about 2,6 million hectares. The area under planting for white maize decreased from 1,71 million hectares to about 1,67 million hectares. Yellow maize dropped from 973 000ha to 922 000ha. The CEC said weather conditions in the summer crop production areas have deteriorated significantly over the past few weeks. – Lynette van Hoven and Wilma den Hartigh
Free State Agriculture (FSA) has decided to postpone its application for various districts in the province to officially be declared drought-stricken areas, saying it would wait another 10 or 14 days in the hope of some good rainfall.
Issue Date: 9 March 2007