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South Africa Drought Hits Farmers, Crops & Food Prices

The drought has sent SA scrambling to provide financial assistance to farmers. An Agri SA report in February says that as of the end of June last year the country's farming debt was R125bn.

"With many farmers in the summer rainfall areas being unable to plant or facing severe livestock losses, it is likely that liquidity in the sector will deteriorate as a result of the drought," the report states. Consumers will be affected as food prices go up, especially since maize meal is a staple of many households.

Last month, Deputy Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele said: "While awaiting a financial injection from the national coffers, the department allocated R1bn towards agricultural drought relief" after it had reprioritised 20% of the comprehensive agricultural support programme (Casp) and Ilima/Letsema, a departmental grant programme aimed at increasing food production. The department of rural, environment and agricultural development has allocated R25m towards drought relief - R19m for fodder and R6m for livestock water. Cele said R24.6m had so far been spent on assisting 13,688 farmers.

Judd McCullum

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