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Members of the Media CEO of NAMC Mr Ronald Ramabulana CEO of AgriSA Mr Omri Van Zyl President of AFASA Mr. Mahanjana CEO of Grain SA Mr Jannie de Villiers Ladies and gentlemen, Good afternoon
South African Weather Service indicated that South Africa is currently in the grips of the worst drought in 23 years. The last big El Nino weather pattern that affected South Africa so extremely was back in 1992. The current El Nino is worldwide and is estimated to last for several more months.
Most areas of the country received below-normal rainfall coupled with high temperatures during the late part of the 2014/15 summer season. The continued low rainfall resulted in dry conditions with drought being reported in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State, North West and parts of the Gauteng, Northern, Eastern and Western Cape Provinces. The Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape are still being assessed.
Agricultural production has been severely affected by the drought and veld conditions are very poor and crop farmers could also not plant their crops during the planting season due to inadequate rainfall. The department reprioritised R305.3 million from the CASP and Ilema Funds towards drought relief. Government intervened by assisting the affected livestock farmers with the animal feeds and drilling new boreholes for the provision of water for the livestock.
In addition to the R305.3 million DAFF together with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform commit about R66.4 million on Land Care Programmes for 2015/16. Land Care is a community based and government supported approach to the sustainable management and use of agricultural natural resources.
The overall goal of Land Care is to optimise productivity and sustainability of natural resources so as to result in greater productivity, food security, job creation and better quality of life for all. The Land care programme serves as a catalytic program that encourages land users to practice sustainable land management practices such as
Conservation Agriculture which serve as a precautionary measure to land degradation, reduced grazing capacity and severe soil moisture loss during drought situation.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) through the Department of Cooperative Governance made a request to National Treasury for additional funds to further assist the farmers to deal with the current drought disaster.
The government through the DAFF is coordinating other social, human and community development sector departments for drought response to food insecurity through the expansion of the Social Relief and Household Food Production support programmes.
From the food security perspective reports point out that the country’s infrastructure might struggle to cope with the volume of maize imports required if a drought exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon further decimates the local crop. A special maize forum meeting focusing on drought was held this morning and well attended and cordially conducted.
National conditions are generally poor in the maize triangle (Mpumalanga, Free State and North West) with Mpumalanga showing optimism on maize conditions. There is average to above average in the eastern part but the west is showing very poor conditions. There is also concern for the animal industry due to poor veld conditions. Follow up rain is therefore needed to sustain better maize conditions in the east. For farmers, the concern is getting production loans for the next season. About 4.7 million hectares might be harvested from the current season.
There is a possibility of 5 to 6 million tons import needs of both white and yellow maize. Combining with the predicted regional needs such as Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, import needs will be at 10. 9 million tons covering other commodities such as soya, wheat.
The ports have capacity to handle import needs better coordination of port utilisation and internal logistics. E.g. Ports should be utilised as throughput areas not storage points to ensure creation of space. Transnet will allocate addition trailers to match the needed capacity. There is need for internal storage capacity internally. Industry already has a logistics coordinating team which brings on board members from other gains and government is a player in that team.
The prevailing importation concerns have been noted and will be addressed between government and the industry in pursuit of seamless and legally sound importation arrangements.
Government and industry will continue working together and monitoring the following: planting and production profiles, import matters, food price implications, the impact on subsistence farmers, climatic conditions, and providing national updates.
There is a commitment between the industry and government to work aggressively together in ensuring better and impactful relief and recovery from the drought situation.
We continue to have engagements with all our stakeholders regarding the drought situation to try and find solutions to this problem the country is facing. Public Private Partnership is vital in order to for the country to overcome this challenge. We are continuously monitoring the current drought conditions as well as spending of allocated funds by provinces and provide the necessary advisories to the farmers.
Issued by:
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Media release