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13 Mar 2024
South Africa is facing a severe drought crisis exacerbated by extreme heat waves, leaving the nation's grain producers reeling under immense pressure. The scorching temperatures and prolonged dry spells have ravaged agricultural lands, severely impacting both developing and commercial producers. With financial strains mounting due to decreased yields and rising production costs, the South African grain industry is urgently calling on Government for support and assistance to alleviate the burden on producers.

The current drought gripping South Africa has pushed agricultural conditions to their limits. The relentless heat waves, coupled with erratic rainfall patterns, have desiccated farmlands, leaving them parched and unyielding. Grain producers, who form the backbone of the nation's agricultural sector, are facing an uphill battle as they struggle to cope with the devastating effects of the drought, with some producers receiving below 50% of their average rainfall in the current season.

This is on the back of the industry already experiencing a negative growth in GDP for the last two quarters, placing the agricultural in a technical recession. Grain and Oilseeds form part of 70% of all food and therefore have a large multiplier effect throughout various industries. The financial strain on grain producers has far-reaching implications, not only for their own livelihoods but also on South Africa’s GDP and it therefore paramount and in the country’s interest that producers are assisted to survive financially through the drought cycle.

“The sweltering temperatures have led to decreased yields, squeezing profit margins, and threatening the viability of entire operations. Many commercial producers are grappling with the prospect of crop failures and financial losses, further exacerbating the strain on their businesses,” Derek Mathews, Grain SA Chairperson said.

This impact is also pronounced among developing producers, who often lack the financial resources and infrastructure to withstand such adversity. Investments that have been made in developing the agricultural sector is diminished due to the disaster of the drought. With their livelihoods hanging in the balance, and no method to mitigate the risk, these producers are facing dire financial constraints, struggling to keep their farms afloat amidst dwindling resources and mounting debts.

“The current conditions highlight the realities of agricultural production and the impact of climatic conditions on food security and -prices on South Africans, but also the Southern African community. Agricultural producers are currently engaging with financiers and agribusiness to ensure that they can resume production in the next season. However, it is clear that a number of producers are in severe distress and will need support to ensure the sustainability of our food production sector”, Tobias Doyer, Grain CEO said.

Considering these challenges, the South African grain industry is issuing an urgent appeal to Government for support and assistance. Immediate action is needed to provide financial assistance through an agricultural disaster fund, access to affordable credit remedies and affordable income insurance, enabling producers to weather the crisis and sustain their livelihood.

Issued by:
Grain SA Communications
Further enquiries:
Tobias Doyer, CEO, Grain SA 08600 47246 | tobias.doyer@grainsa.co.za