South Africa’s worst drought in two decades is tarnishing the dreams of emerging black commercial farmers and cutting into the wealth of small-scale farmers. The state’s response to the drought is politically crucial and could have a major impact on 2016’s local elections, argue political analysts.

Last year, drought reduced SA’s staple maize crop by a third. An El Nino weather pattern, heralding poor rains for the country, is forecast to possibly extend as far into the future as autumn 2016.

Local livestock farmers have been urged by the government to cut herd sizes, as pastures are no longer hospitable to large herds that have often been accumulated over decades as a family investment.

The drought has also affected commercial agriculture, particularly new black farmers who have received redistributed land as they lack capital to endure drought conditions.

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