Pretoria – Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says the current drought in the country calls for cooperation from the private sector and farmers as well as planning for the future.
“Now more than ever this situation calls for us to work together and support each other,” said the Minister.
Farmers in provinces including the North West, Free State, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Gauteng and Northern Cape have been scrambling to find water for their crops and livestock as the country’s dam levels have dropped.
In Limpopo alone a total of 51560 livestock has been affected by the drought while 2020 cases of mortality have been reported.
The Minister said it was time farmers headed the call by government to move their livestock from communal land which is often over utilised to state-owned lands for feeding.
Other interventions undertaken by government include the provision of livestock feed, rain water tanks, water for livestock and water hydration to affected areas.
Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, the Minister said despite the persistent drought situation, there was no intention to declare the situation a national disaster.
“Yes, this disaster is huge but not yet an emergency as not every part of each province is affected by drought,” the Minister said.
South Africa, along with other Southern African countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, is in the midst of the worst drought in decades which in turn affect agriculture.
Most areas in the country received below-normal rainfall coupled with high temperatures during the late part of the 2014/15 summer season.
Scientist have indicated that the drought will likely continue until autumn later this year.
The situation has sparked fears that food prices will increase due to low production and increased imports.
Minister Nkwinti confirmed that the drought will mean that South Africa will import between five and six million tons of white and yellow maize.
White maize is made into pap, the main source of calories for many households. The yellow variety is used almost exclusively as animal feed.
Going forward, the Minster said the country needed to consider desalination of seawater. He said discussions were underway in this regards.
Desalination involves the removal of salts and minerals from sea water to produce fresh water suitable for human consumption or irrigation.