Nkgono Jane says...
This past summer crop production season has been a very difficult and trying time for all farmers. There are some small areas in Mpumalanga, who have been blessed with good rains, but for the rest, it has been an unusually dry period and the rains have been patchy. It rains on some and it does not rain on others.
We have spoken to a number of older farmers during this period and they have the same message continue to do the right thing. By that they mean that we should not panic and make silly decisions. When you are desperate, you take risks and this is dangerous. The planting dates in areas are determined over years and when you move outside of those dates you are running a high risk of losing the value of the inputs and the cost of the operations. Rather wait and do not plant rather than plant a crop out of season. We have been aware of contractors (particularly in the North West) who are planting sunflowers into dry land during February. Firstly, we do not ever plant into dry land, and we cannot afford to plant when the season has already passed. These contractors are being paid with grants from the government – this irresponsible use of state funds should be construed as ‘fruitless expenditure’ and the perpetrators should be taken to task. Just because it is government money does not mean that we can waste it.
As far as the livestock are concerned, it looks as if this is going to be a difficult winter. When the rains come very late, as they have done this year, the grass tries to make seed (to ensure its future survival) and it does not make good leaf. Although in many areas, the veld is looking green, there will not be the normal tonnage of dry material. Due to the poor crops, it is likely that the stover on the lands will not be plentiful either. We would like to suggest to you to take a very long and hard look at your livestock and sell off as many as you can – old animals, weak animals, unproductive animals. Just keep a few productive animals that you will be able to afford to feed until the next summer season. Remember also that the veld is not going to recover fast in the spring and so you might have to feed into October (we certainly hope not).
I pray that the rains will come soon and that the frost will be late. In the meantime, keep positive and continue to make rational decisions. Be Blessed.
Publication: March 2016