Although last week’s Northern Cape rain was not enough to break the prevailing drought, it was enough to give farmers in the province hope ahead of the summer rain season – some for the first time in nine years.
Agri Northern Cape president Nicol Jansen tells Food For Mzansi that farmers are incredibly grateful for rains that fell “across the length and breadth of the province” from Wednesday to Friday last week, from Fraserburg to Calvinia, the Boesmanland to Brandvlei and the Kalahari. “Especially in the dry areas of the Boesmanland like Williston and Carnarvon. The rain fell very widely across the summer rain region.”
“It is early in the season and we are very excited for the season ahead. The forecasts are also good for Thursday and Friday and we hope the parts and farms that were skipped, will also receive rain.”
Nicol says that despite the jubilant tone of social media posts – as rains brought hope to the drought-stricken province for the first time in nine years in some parts – rainfall was not sufficient to bring an end to the state of disaster prevalent across 50% of the province.
To put it in perspective, he says that the 30ml Aggeneys in the Richtersveld received last week, constitutes only a third of its average annual rainfall of 100ml. To end a drought, above-average rainfall is needed to allow plant life to recover even as animals graze on some.
“This is a very good start, but we’ll need several such [weather] systems.”
Garden Route and Central Karoo also wet
Dry parts of the Western Cape also received rain and welcome respite thanks to a large thundershower over the Garden Route and Central Karoo on Thursday last week.
Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, released a statement, saying, “The Gouritz River catchment area has not seen rain like this for nearly nine years. Oudtshoorn received 41mm and Ladismith 57mm among others. The rainfall was soft and continuous and caused less damage than we feared, although there were some isolated incidents of damage to infrastructure reported. However, we are ecstatic about the good rain.”
The average level for all dams in the Western Cape this week stands at 82.69% (compared to to 80.28% last year).
Bredell cautions that it’s likely too soon to declare the drought in the region over. “The agriculture sector in that region has been devastated by the drought that has just been never ending. We hope the good rains will go some way to see a recovery and we certainly hope to see more rain.”
According to the latest figures from the South African Weather Service for this week, there may be some more rain in the central and eastern areas of the Western Cape’s interior towards the end of the week.
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