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Farmers plead for drought-hit areas to be declared disaster zones

Government warned that for the first time in six years, the country would not meet water demands.

FILE: Sheep grazing in a field near Swellendam, in the Western Cape. Drought, climate change, economic downturn, security issues in rural areas, and uncertainty about the future of land reform in South Africa, are making agriculture in South Africa an increasingly challenging environment. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As dam levels continue to decline and with very little rainfall, there are concerns about the impact this is having on farmers.

The African Farmers' Association of South Africa on Tuesday said farmers were battling in dry conditions and were pleading for affected areas to be declared disaster zones.

Government warned that for the first time in six years, the country would not meet water demands.

A.J Kotze is a livestock farmer in Limpopo.

He said it's been tough: “There are lots of other farmers who only rely on farming itself and the state of the animals right now, they can’t even sell them to make money. So, I feel so sorry for so many people who don’t have funds to basically look after themselves, their families and farms.”

Adjunct professor at the Wits School of Governance Mike Muller has suggested that the agriculture sector should restructure and not be solely dependent on government for funding.

"But the bigger question, do we go back to the pre-94 situation where farmers in this situation were looked after by government or do we expect the agricultural industry to recognise that weather is tough and unpredictable and must organise for themselves to be able to survive?"

WATCH: Government or God: South Africa's Water Crisis

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