South Africa — The Department of Agriculture has urgedfarmers to approach the summer season with caution because of the limited soilmoisture and higher than normal temperatures.
“Temperatures are expected to be above-normal overthe entire forecast region. Occasional heatwaves with humid conditions arepossible throughout the summer season,” the department said Monday.
The department has advised farmers to maintain goodfarming practices, control their stock to suit the number of camps andavailability of feed and put in place the appropriate contingency plans forgrazing livestock capacity.
“Thunderstorms usually associated with flash floods,strong winds, hail and lightning are likely this summer season because ofexpected rains and high temperatures,” the department said, adding that”precautionary measures therefore should also be in place”.
As this is the summer season, the department said thatveld fires might be experienced in some winter rainfall regions, especially byend of this year and called for measures for fires such as firebreaks and othersto be put in place as indicated in the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (ActNo. 101 of 1998).
A series of cold spells were experienced over the countrythroughout the winter season.
“The drought conditions that were experienced in the2006/07 summer season resulted in lower dam levels and yields for summer cropswith the exception of the Western Cape.
“The decrease in the underground water level is aserious concern in some areas,” the department said.
Although, the department requested funds from the NationalTreasury for relief to farmers who experienced natural disasters, farmers areencouraged to utilise supplementary feed during the first half of the summerseason in order to ensure a full veld recovery.
These disasters include drought and veld fires whichdevastated most of the country.
Farmers are also advised to practise risk measures andmaintain good veld management to minimise post-disaster assistance.
According to the recently concluded National VulnerabilityAssessments, the food insecure population in the Southern African DevelopmentCommunity region has doubled from about 3.1 million last year to 6.1 millionthis year.
Grain availability, the department said in the regionremains insufficient to cover staple food requirements in the countries facinglarge production deficits.
Continuing drought, poor veld management practices andveld fires aggravated the already poor veld condition, which led to poorlivestock condition in most of the country with reported mortalities in otherareas, said the department.
“Wet and warm conditions are expected over the summerrainfall areas and enhanced probabilities of favourable rainfall conditions areforecast from year end onward over the summer rainfall regions in anticipationof a La Ni-a phenomenon,” the department explained.