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Drought threatens crop production, livestock

There are warnings that if rain doesn't fall during the planting season, next year’s yield could be worse.

FILE: Grain SA has also predicted a steady rise in the price of maize, which saw a hike of 14 percent this year.  Picture: Freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - While the Department of Agriculture rolls out relief for farmers affected by the drought, there have been warnings that if rain doesn't fall during the planting season, next year's yield could be worse than ever.

South Africa traditionally exports maize, but this year it's had to import large quantities of white maize due to the shortfall caused by the drought.

Grain SA has also predicted a steady rise in the price of maize, which saw a hike of 14 percent this year.

AgriSA Economist Thabi Nkosi says farmers have until the middle of next month to finish planting.

"Farmers essentially have until the middle of December to at least try and put the seeds in the ground. If rain does not come before that, we are looking at a season of low production in many areas and, of course, that will affect us in months to come."

WATCH: Drought hits SA farmers hard

Meanwhile, the Rural Development and Land Reform Department says it's experiencing some difficulties convincing farmers on drought-affected land to relocate their livestock.

About 62,000 hectares of land has been allocated in KwaZulu-Natal alone to support farming in the disaster-stricken province.

The department's relief intervention is meant to move farmers to areas where grazing land is still viable.

At least 200,000 hectares of land have been allocated in the North West province to move livestock to better pastures.

But Minister Gugile Nkwinti says communal land farmers are reluctant to move.

He says the department wants to rehabilitate the land that farmers are currently using, which is overgrazed in some parts.

However, many still have to be persuaded amid fears that relocation will result in the loss of farming land.

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