South Africa: Parched Province Faces Losses of Over R6 Billion

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'The conditions are worsening daily. Water levels in boreholes are dropping fast. Many farmers are reporting that boreholes are drying up. The condition of grazing is critical.'

Farmers in the Karoo have started feeding their animals donated citrus fruit to keep them alive. (Photo: Mike Holmes)

The Eastern Cape government has requested more than R600-million in drought funding from the national government - mostly to save the province's livestock sector. However, the provincial government's budget for boreholes and dams has been questioned for being way too expensive.

With "conservative" estimates of losses in the livestock sector in the province topping R6-billion and threatening thousands of jobs; and grain production predicted to be down by a quarter, the picture painted by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform is a bleak one. Premier Oscar Mabuyane declared the province a drought disaster area on October 29.

Massive parts of the province are currently classified as being in a severe and extreme drought disaster. Hardest hit is the Raymond Mhlaba district, including the towns of Adelaide, Alice, Balfour, Bedford, Hogsback, Katberg and Middledrift, with 85% of the district in an extreme drought. According to the department, R121-million worth of fodder will be...

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