News / South Africa / Weather
The prayers of many farmers around the country have been answered as long, soaking rains relieve the sufferings of drought.
Executive Director at Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) Theo de Jager said farmers were always grateful for the rain.
“To us, rain is life. Farmers will seldom complain about rain, except if it brought great destruction,” he said.
De Jager said the rain was not just good rain but it was much needed rain. The farmers in the Karoo were particularly hard-hit by a prolonged, eight-year drought, but are now looking at overflowing dams.
“The rain came after one of the biggest droughts, in one of the largest parts of our country, since we started recording,” he said.
De Jager said the rain was an outcome the farmers have been praying for.
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“More than a thousand farmers have reached the end of the road three years ago but managed to survive due to drought help from various organisations since 2012,” he said.
De Jager said approaching the government for drought assistance in the Karoo was fruitless, because they said one should not farm in a “semi-desert” in the first place.
“That’s why the rain was a sent from heaven,” he said.
Communications manager at the South African Weather Service Hannelee Doubell said the larger part of the country received normal to above normal rainfall during the spring season.
“It was, in particular, the western interior that received relief from drought conditions. Good rainfall conditions continued into December with most of the country receiving above normal rainfall during the first ten days of December,” Doubell said.
She said La Niña conditions were expected to continue during the summer season; and the predictions for rainfall for the larger part of the country were for enhanced probabilities of above normal rainfall during the January-February-March, February-March-April and MarchApril-May 2022 seasons.
Agriculturalist Wandile Sihlobo said he found during a recent trip that the vegetation from Pretoria to Port St Johns in the Wild Coast was green and lush.
“During drought, this could be a depressing drive. This was the case in December 2015. Unlike December 2015, this season’s drive was as refreshing as no other season in recent memory,” he said.
Sihlobo said 2016/17 and 2019/20 turned out to be bumper seasons for South Africa’s agricultural sector, which received late rains.
“This year the heavy rains since the start of October improved the moisture much faster. Sihlobo said the La Niña rains this year fell much earlier than usual and were more frequent and heavier.