The rain over the past two weeks might have had a positive impact on some farms and dam levels, but the situation remains critical with areas in the Eastern Cape going into their sixth year of drought.
Parts of the country experienced rain daily since January after cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique, with provinces such as
Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal getting downpours for more than two weeks.
But more rain was expected in the week, said South African Weather Service (SAWS) forecaster Kgomotso Mahlangu.
“For the next week, we are expecting 30% to 60% chances of afternoon showers and thundershowers, mostly over the
eastern parts of the country, including Limpopo, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Western and Eastern Cape,” Mahlangu said.
The rain, however, boosted cotton farming in KwaZulu-Natal, which had suffered a two-year drought, said AgriSA’s risk manager Andrea Campher.
She said Limpopo farmers who struggled with five-year “green drought”, where the vegetation was lush, but dams were empty, were assisted with the rise in many critical dam levels in the Karoo still dry as SA braces for more rain
“The drought which was experienced by many farmers across South Africa was one of the driest periods in 100 years.
“The recent rains have improved pastures but it will take several years for pastures to fully recover after this long-lasting drought. The positive effect is that dam capacities improved with the recent rainfall, which will assist many irrigation farmers.”
National dam levels had, over the past three weeks, shown averages better than a year ago, said department of water and sanitation spokesman Sputnik Ratau.
“Even though the systems and the dams are recovering, we are not yet at the point of releasing water by opening the sluice gates,” he said.
But parts of the country such as the northern areas of the Eastern Cape were still “very dry”, with some areas in the Karoo such as Jansenville, Aberdeen, Steytlerville, Rietbron and Willowmore still not having received any rain.
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