On Tuesday, 20 September 2016, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries heard briefings during the stakeholder engagement on the impact of drought and the implementation of the drought response plan. AgriSA said the South African agricultural sector has a turnover of R227 billion per and represents 2.5% of the economy with a value addition of 20-25% and it employs more than 850 000 people. The worst drought conditions on record resulted in agricultural production declining by 8.4% in 2015.
To illustrate the impact the drought had on the sector, AgriSA highlighted the following:
By February 2016, the area for summer crops to be planted decreased by 26% and the maize area planted decreased by 27,1%
Crop estimates decreased for maize (-2.5%), soya beans (-5.7%) and sorghum (-21.8%)
Crop estimates increased for sunflower (10.5%), groundnuts (15.3%) and dry beans (25.4%), because farmers moved from maize to these crops due to the planting window period being missed and delayed rains
The Western Cape (31%), KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State currently have the lowest dam levels out of all the provinces.
The current situation shows the country is still experiencing extreme drought conditions and 8 provinces or parts of them are still declared disaster areas. Many commercial and emerging farmers face a serious financial predicament and with agricultural employment at risk, employee specific support is required.
For more on the drought impact on the sector, see infographic below: