Sustained heavy rainfall may have been a blessing for drought-stricken regions of the country, but farmers in the Free State and North West provinces are struggling with the latest bout of storms.
Agricultural organisation TLU SA has confirmed that more than six thousand hectares of crops between Christiana and Hertzogville have been damaged and in some cases, destroyed.
“Within a few hours, we had rainfall of 110mm, and the hail damaged my maize,” Hennie Roos, a farmer who’s land sits between Hoopstad and Hertzogville, said.
“We already had water damage due to the heavy rain, but yesterday (Tuesday 4 January) was the final nail in the coffin. Now we must wait and see. The planting season is over, so I cannot plant again.
“Everything is also inaccessible. It’s just one big mess! We cannot even get close to the fields because everything is under water and the roads are washed away. We must first wait and give time to get on the fields to see what we can do.
“Maybe I will be able to plant wheat, but everything is uncertain…”
More rain expected
TLU SA has submitted a proposal to the Free State Department of Agriculture, urging it to declare afflicted agricultural communities as disaster areas.
The organisation has also pleaded with the department to provide funds to assist farming communities, assess the monetary loss suffered by the farmers and surrounding provincial infrastructure, and restore strategic services.
Independent agricultural meteorologist Johan van den Berg told TLU SA many maize districts, especially in the Free State, suffered permanent damage.
Van den Berg warned of more rain this coming weekend, until around 15 January, and for the end of the month and the first two weeks of February.
There is an associated risk of large-scale flooding in the Vaal and Orange Rivers due to the rainfall as well, he said.
“Along with the rain in the north-western Free State, there was also a lot of hail in the past 36 hours.
“Farmers are currently unable to apply sufficient fertiliser, sunlight is low, waterlogging conditions are high and portions cannot be planted are all factors contributing to damage of 10 to 15%.
“More rain as predicted is going to make it worse. Standing water can also escalate livestock diseases,” Van den Berg added.
If you would like to find out how you can assist affected farmers, click here.
Compiled by Nica Richards