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Govt ‘not ready’ to declare #SADrought a national disaster

Minister Senzeni Zokwana says govt estimates that R16 billion has been lost through the national drought.

Carcas of cattle lost in the drought lie in a field in the Free State. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana says government estimates that R16 billion has been lost through the national drought and is considering approaching the National Treasury to make up for the losses.

Zokwana also says government is not ready to declare the drought a national disaster.

Six provinces have been affected by the low pressure system, which has been described as the worst in 23 years.

The minister has been speaking at an economic cluster briefing in Parliament on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address.

Zokwana says there's a risk of disinvestment in agriculture from the banking sector if a national disaster is declared.

"We have approached the IDC which has promised to put aside half a billion rand to assist farmers. But another view was put forward that maybe we need to approach the Treasury where they can stand surety in some of the indebtedness of farmers."

WATCH: SA economy suffers as drought continues

Last week, Agri SA said five percent of South Africa's livestock breeding herds have died during the worst drought in a century and red meat prices are expected to rise towards the end of this year.

Agri SA warned that food production has reached crisis levels and as winter approaches, serious food shortages are expected.

There are also concerns about the increase in the number of farms being sold due to the dry weather.

WATCH: Drought hits SA farmers hard