Agri SA's Agriculture Drought Report 2019/2020

Today, Agri SA hosted a press briefing on the severe drought experienced throughout South Africa.

The panel included members from various sectors presenting agriculture, namely, Gerhard Schutte - Red Meat Producers, Jannie de Villiers - Grain SA, Wiehan Victor on the Horticulture industry, Adri Kitshoff-Botha - Wildlife Ranching and Dr Chris van Dijk - Milk Producers Organisation.

1. Executive summary
Agri SA, a federation of agricultural organisations, was established in 1904 as the South African Agricultural Union and consists of nine provincial and 26 commodity organisations as well as 49 corporate members.
Agri SA affiliates regularly submitted feedback to accurately assess the impact of the drought on farming. This is done to understand the impact and how to respond best.
2. Key Findings
• 37,44% of rural communities in South Africa are affected by drought
• Real agricultural output was 9.2% lower in the first half of 2019 than in the corresponding period of 2018.
• The drought conditions of 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019 have left many maize producers in the North West and parts of the Free State in a very challenging environment.
• In these years, produces not only suffered substantial yield losses, but several producers could also not plant their intended maize area.
• Financial strain is increasing, carry-over debt is rising, and many are looking to alternatives in urban areas.
• Late plantings and patchily rainfall are expected to negatively affect grains, while herds recover following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
• The Western Cape drought has had a big effect on total production, with export volume down 25%, on average, comparing the 5 years running from 2008/9 to 2012/13 to the 5 years from 2013/14 to 2017/18.
• In the livestock sector, several factors have combined to strain producer margins in 2019 such as rising feed prices resulting from the dry planting
season, as well as the FMD outbreak in Q1 of 2019.
• With domestic consumer spending under pressure, the diversion of products that might otherwise have been exported into the domestic market caused prices to decline sharply, despite constrained supply amid a cycle of herd rebuilding.
• Employment in agriculture for the Northern Cape and Free State declined - 22.5% (9, 000) and -24.8% (18, 000) respectively on a year-on-year basis.

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