South Africa - Crop damage caused by heavy rainfall will result in higher food prices

11.01.2022 268 views

Farmers across large parts of KwaZuluNatal, the Free State and North West say there has been widespread damage to agriculture infrastructure and crops due to recent heavy rains.

Dr Siyabonga Madlala, executive chairperson of the South African Farmers Development Association (Safda), said that while the damage was still being assessed it was expected to run into millions of rand.

Safda , agriculture organisation TLU SA, and civil society organisation, the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group, said they expected an increase in food prices as a result of the crop damage.

Madlala said that he had been directly affected by the rain damage.

“We are still assessing the impact due to the rainfall in KwaZulu-Natal, but with the damage caused to avocados, cabbage and sugar cane, we expect it to amount to millions.”

He added that the country was still reeling from the hike in food prices due to the July unrest, and the recent rainfall damage would result in the consumer bearing the brunt of higher food prices.

“Rainfall is a good thing and a bad thing. We need the rain, but too much of it affects farming and causes damage to infrastructure and crops. I don't expect a shortage of food but there will be higher prices for fresh produce.”

Madlala said government intervention was needed to assist farmers.

“Areas such as Melmoth, the Midlands, Pietermaritzburg and the South Coast experienced massive damage. We need government assistance so farmers can recover from their losses.”

Bennie van Zyl of TLU SA said damage to maize crops had been felt in the Free State due to the rainfall.

“Just one farmer has many expenses including seeds, fertiliser and diesel. Imagine the cost of this being R14 000 and then to see all this being washed away due to rain. There’s no way for a farmer to recover all the losses.”

Van Zyl added that he believed the losses would affect the consumer.

“The impact will be great, planting season is finished so whatever losses that farmers experienced now can’t be recovered by planting more crops. The damage will also mean that land will need to be rehabilitated. We must also remember that we experienced damage to crops due to extreme sunlight and this will add to farmers’ losses.”

Mervyn Abrahams of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group said that in the last two months of 2021, the household affordability index basket showed that the price of food was stable.

“This included fresh produce. Due to the recent rains in the Midlands and Eastern Cape a lot of fresh produce has been lost. This will cause a drop in supply over the next two weeks, which will cause an increase in demand for fresh produce and will definitely cause an increase in fresh produce prices.”

Abrahams said that the heavy rainfall could be attributed to climate change.

“We need to also explore alternative methods of agriculture such as agro ecology, which is a more natural way of growing fresh produce and vegetables.”

“I visited parts of KwaZulu-Natal that were affected by the drought and it was farmers that were using agro ecology who were able to still grow fresh produce.” committee to be exercised in line with the ANC constitution. Therefore, the RTT that presided over the processes towards the regional conference was legitimate. Ntuli threw down the gauntlet to the members, maintaining that the governing party had played everything by the book concerning the regional conference.

“I therefore challenge your clients to favour us with the evidence supporting their allegation. In the circumstances, the allegations you raise are nothing but frivolous and any litigation, as threatened, will be vexatious. The ANC will defend any possible litigation and will ask for costs against your clients,” Ntuli concluded.

Moses Mabhida regional secretary Ndlovu described the two members as individuals who simply wanted to lodge a complaint because their side had not won.

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