“When it comes to climate change, it’s not business as usual”. So says Tshepo Morokong, senior agricultural economist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.
Morokong joins Food For Mzansi co-founder, Kobus Louwrens and editor, Dawn Noemdoe, in this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, highlighting the impact of climate change on the agricultural industry in South Africa.
The agricultural economist grew in up Hammanskraal, a small town in northern Gauteng where most of his neighbours were subsistence farmers. He never intended to join the farming sector, but during his first year of studying medical science he decided to take a different path and opted for the agricultural industry instead.
Morokong has been exposed to various parts of the agricultural industry. He has worked as a government intern in the financial sector and later he joined an NGO called Conservation South Africa. He also worked at Asset Research as a natural resource economist until he was appointed by the Western Cape department of agriculture as an agricultural economist.
Commenting on climate change, Morokong explains that agriculture is not just limited to what is happening on the farm. Throughout the podcast, he unpacks ways in which small scale and commercial farmers can manage the risk of climate change.
This includes, “diversifying their farming operations. Instead of farming cattle until it is ready for the market they can look after a pregnant cow and when it gives birth, they can sell the calf to the feedlot to be value added.”
When it comes to crops, Morokong says, farmers can look at conservation agriculture in which they ensure that there is minimal disturbance to the soil. “They can also diversify or alternate the type of crops they plant on their farms,” he adds.
The economist also explains why he believes it is crucial for farmers to constantly acquire agricultural knowledge, take note of what is happening in the sector, and look at what other farmers are doing to mitigate climate change.
“In the midst of climate change, agricultural farming practises need to adapt to the change. If you’re already on a large scale, adapting might mean something different compared to someone who’s farming on a smaller scale.”
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