Govt in talks to declare Gauteng drought disaster area

Officials say commercial farmers are struggling to cope with the current water restrictions.

Farmers in the Free State are losing hundreds of animals because of the drought. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The portfolio committee of agriculture and rural development says the Gauteng government is in talks to try and declare the province a drought disaster area.

Members of the provincial legislature in the economic cluster tabled quarterly reports for some departments today.

WATCH: Drought hits SA farmers hard

The committee says not all farmers can be helped, due to a lack of adequate resources.

The agriculture and rural development portfolio committee says commercial farmers are struggling to cope with the current water restrictions.

Chairperson Errol Magerman says the department reported 720 smallholdings and 500 commercial farmers have been seriously affected by the dry conditions in the province.

He says commercial farmers need the drought to be declared a disaster to also get help from insurance companies.

"With the process unfolding now between the MEC of Cogta, the MEC of agriculture and the premier, we hope that the province will be declared a disaster area."

He says the committee is also worried about inadequate resources available to farmers in the province.

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.

It warned that food production had reached crisis levels and as winter approached, serious food shortages were expected.

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