SA drought persists despite May rainfall

The persistence of a severe drought will result in widening cereal deficits due to crop failures.

The water level of the Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town dropped to around 30 percent in March 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is still suffering the effects of a drought despite increased rainfall in May, leaving dam water levels low and crop supplies scant, the agricultural ministry said on Monday.

The persistence of a severe drought across southern Africa will result in widening cereal deficits due to crop failures, the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries added in a statement.

The department said rainfall had increased in the first ten days of May but that drought conditions would continue.

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Last week, the South African Weather Service's winter forecast showed the rapid fading of an El NiƱo weather pattern that scorched key crops; but the overall picture is increasingly uncertain.

It said despite the uncertainty, there were "chances for above-normal rainfall conditions over the western and northeastern parts of the country for the winter season."

This could help restore soil moisture levels in parts of the maize belt before the summer planting season and bring welcome rainfall to parched grazing lands.

South Africa's staple maize crop will likely be around 30 percent lower this season because of the drought.

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