On Tuesday 4 January, severe storms hit parts of the Free State and Northwest provinces. Floodwaters damaged thousands of acres of crops between Christiana and Hertzogville and in some cases destroyed them.
The damage affects a roughly estimated area of more than 6000 hectares that has been destroyed. Urgent steps are needed to mitigate the impact of this natural disaster on the farming communities in the affected areas.
TLU SA’s proposals to the Free State’s Department of Agriculture (as addressed to him in writing) are:
Declare the districts in which the agricultural communities were the hardest hit as disaster areas.
Urgently provide funds to assist farming communities hardest hit by the disaster to continue with their farming operations.
Make an assessment of the financial impact and monetary loss suffered by the victims of this disaster.
For budgetary purposes to call upon the relevant Provincial departments to determine the damaged caused to provincial infrastructure e.g. roads and other strategic networks.
To take the initiatives to co-ordinate the steps by non-provincial agencies e.g. Eskom to restore strategic services.
To take hands with TLU SA and other agricultural agencies to assist members of the agricultural sectors who were hardest hit by this natural disaster and to minimise the damage caused by this disaster.
Hennie Roos, who farms between Hoopstad and Hertzogville, told how yesterday’s heavy rain and hail was the last straw.
“Within a few hours, we had rainfall of 110mm, and the hail damaged my maize,” said Roos.
“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…”
Johan van den Berg, independent agricultural meteorologist, said: “There is permanent damage in large maize districts, especially in the Free State but also in other provinces, such as the Northwest. In the short term, there will still be a lot of rain this coming weekend until about January 15th. Then rain is forecast again for the last week of January and the first two weeks of February. The chances of a large-scale flood in the Vaal and Orange Rivers are therefore great.
“Although there are drought spots or waterlogging spots at drylands every year, the area is much larger this year. Furthermore, hail damage is also a problem. 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 fertilizer, 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.
Those who want to help TLU SA to help the farmers in need can contribute to the Trauma Fund https://www.payfast.co.za/donate/go/traumafonds