Climate Change a Direct Threat to Food Security in South Africa

  • South African farmers are experiencing persistent dryness and hot weather after three years of the worst drought on record for the country.
  • As little as 60% of available land was planted this season and those crops are being threatened by heat stress, according to Grain SA.
  • 31 000 jobs and R7bn had been lost as a result of the drought.
  • The dire situation will force imports of certain crops.

Extended drought and extreme weather conditions are a direct threat to crops and livestock according to Grain SA, a lobby group in South Africa. They warn of an impending crisis regarding food security in the country.

South African farmers continue to experience persistent dryness and hot weather after three years  of the  worst drought on record for the country. As little as 60% of available land was planted this season and those crops are being threatened by heat stress, according to Grain SA.

Grain SA’s CEO Jannie de Villiers was speaking at a press briefing last week, “The country will need to import yellow corn and there’s a possibility it will have shortages of the staple white variety despite a large carry-over stock from last season” he said. “If we don’t get rains this weekend in some of the areas, most of those plants will die. This will put South Africa in a very tight situation.”

The country is mobilising to mitigate the risk. Agricultural Business Chamber is in talks with government, banks and businesses about support for the industry. A December survey showed 31 000 jobs and R7bn had been lost as a result of the drought, which is having a “devastating impact” on crops, the chamber said.

Gerhard Schutte, the chief executive officer of the country’s Red Meat Producers Association who spoke at the briefing said “As the situation stands, we are going to lose farmers and livestock. We need drought aid. If that aid isn’t in place by the beginning of winter, we really have serious problems.”

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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