Drought’s R16bn tsunami – small, medium towns at riskIt’s government statements like these which really makes one wonder if the drought has well and truly been swept under the carpet. “We, however, have to contend with drought, which has resulted in losses worth R16 billion across the sector.” Where’s the urgency? And while northern neighbours Zimbabwe declared a State of Emergency, the South African government sits idle. Government says R1 billion has been prioritised and available to farmers through loans but even if the money’s there (reports suggest there’s only R400m), it’s a fraction of the damaged caused already. According to Johannes Wessels, it’s only going to get worse. He looks at the knock on affects of the drought, and we’re not talking about the price of goods and food security. He says it’s likely to fuel the next destructive wave of urbanisation. An interesting read. – Stuart Lowman.

By Johannes Wessels*

The absence of oil well rigs confirmed we were not flying over Libya… Flying to Bloemfontein last weekend the scorched desert-scape below reminded me of the words of a German exchange student who stayed with us in Bloemfontein in 1996 when asked what impression of the Free State she would remember: “The vast stretches of brown with the green patchwork of crops”. This time the red or ash grey extended over vast fields without cultivation broken in isolated places by semi-green irrigation circles clearly showing the ground water is also under threat.

Agri SA and Grain SA have repeatedly asked for the declaration of a State of Emergency and the release of funding to assist commercial and emerging farmers to ride out the drought storm. Warnings have been streaming in from several sides: Food security is under threat.

It is over simplification to equate food security with food self-sufficiency. Singapore has food security but is far from producing within its borders all or most of the food its citizens consume. If South Africa can import food to meet shortfalls in local food production, food security is in place.Rand weakness is a risk for food affordability. Food insecurity is not caused by drought or crop failure: it is caused by bad politics.

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