Farmers urged to implement risk-reduction measures

Farmers have been advised to be on the lookout for daily extreme weather warnings and implement risk-reduction measures.

This comes as the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) says that in large parts of the country poor to reasonable veld and livestock conditions are being reported.

“Veld fires in several provinces have resulted in damage to grazing land and infrastructure, as well as contributing to livestock fatalities. Land preparations are underway for summer crops, and assessments are being conducted by provinces to quantify the damage,” the department said.

According to the Seasonal Climate Watch issued by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) on 3 October 2023, above normal rainfall is anticipated for large parts of the country during the early part of summer “though mostly with low probabilities of above normal rainfall”.

“Below normal rainfall is expected during mid-summer over the western and central parts of the country as predictions still favour above normal rainfall conditions over the north-eastern parts of the country during mid-summer, even with an El Niño in place,” the weather service reported.

The weather service warned that the El Niño effect might still manifest its influence over the next few months and change the outlook of the rainfall forecast for mid- and late summer. Both minimum and maximum temperatures are expected to be above normal countrywide.

Considering the seasonal forecast and accompanying caution, the department advised farmers to approach the season with vigilance.

“Dryland farmers should wait for sufficient soil moisture before planting. Drought-tolerant cultivars should be prioritised in areas that have constantly been experiencing dry conditions.

“In regions that are in a reasonable condition, farmers are advised to prepare in line with the expected conditions, i.e. in line with the seasonal forecast. However, they should not expand planting land unnecessarily,” the department said.

It advised farmers to consider short-season cultivars and note that rainfall distribution continues to remain a challenge, and not all areas might receive the anticipated above normal rainfall that is well distributed.”

It further advised farmers to put measures in place for pests and diseases associated with wet and hot conditions, as normal rainfall and high temperatures are anticipated during early summer.

“Farmers using irrigation should comply with water restrictions in their areas. Farmers must continually conserve resources in accordance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA), 1983 (Act No. 43 of 1983).

“Livestock should be kept in balance with carrying capacity of the veld and provided with additional feed such as relevant licks. Additionally, livestock should be provided with enough water points on the farm as well as shelter during bad weather conditions,” the department said.

The creation and maintenance of fire belts should be prioritised as well as adherence to veld fire warnings.

“Episodes of flooding resulting from rain-bearing weather systems are likely and preventive measures should be in place. Farmers are encouraged to implement strategies provided in the early-warning information issued.” –

Source: South African Government News Agency