South African Agriculture in danger as El Niño looms


In accordance with Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist of the agriculture enterprise chamber Agbiz, South Africa’s agricultural sector is in danger as a result of a shift to hotter and drier El Niño climate situations after a number of years of beneficial La Niña (cooler) situations.

Harvester harvesting wheat within the Overberg area of South Africa with the Langeberg mountains as a backdrop. Image: Rustynails / Getty Photographs

Sihlobo warned that if the nation experiences a potential drought season, it’s going to pressure a big portion of the agricultural business. He defined to News24 that roughly 20% of maize, 15% of soybean, 34% of sugarcane and practically half of South Africa’s wheat are produced below irrigation. As well as, a big space of vegatables and fruits depends on irrigation, which performs a vital function within the livestock sector.

‘A potential drought would current main dangers to meals safety,’ warned Sihlobo. ‘Much more worrying is that the agricultural areas that irrigate face steady interruptions due to load shedding.’

Sihlobo notes that South Africa has had 4 seasons of La Niña-induced heavy rains from 2019/20 to 2022/23, which supported agriculture and led to increased yields throughout numerous area crops, vegatables and fruits. The livestock business additionally benefitted from improved grazing pasture. Nevertheless, he warns {that a} return of El Niño situations may resemble the awful agricultural situations over the last El Niño drought within the 2015/16 season.

Dewald Olivier of the SA Feedlot Affiliation identified that drought might be notably difficult for livestock farmers, on condition that some elements of the nation are nonetheless experiencing the consequences of the current drought. With decrease rainfall ranges, the standard and amount of grazing land might be decreased, making it troublesome for farmers to offer satisfactory feed for his or her livestock. In flip, it may result in weight reduction, poor well being and decreased productiveness amongst livestock. Suppose the provision of grazing land is decreased. In that case, livestock farmers could have to buy further feed to complement their animals’ diets, which might be costly and add to the general value of manufacturing. Moreover, drier and hotter situations can create a extra beneficial surroundings for sure ailments to unfold, affecting livestock well being.


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