Livestock farmers in South Africa have been hit hard by ongoing drought, forcing many to sell their stock or lose animals on their farms. David Pollard reports.
There are precious supplies here, but elsewhere the farm is parched. Heatwave after heatwave turning this South African summer to drought. After, already, one of the driest seasons on record last year. Farmer Keitumetse's spent a decade building up her herd. This year she's been laying off workers. Selling cattle to cut losses. (SOUNDBITE) (Setswana) KEITUMETSE MARWALA, FARMER, SAYING: "I always sell off calves. They are the ones that bring in some money so that I can buy feed to feed the ones left over." Others are doing the same. Food price inflation could be one cost of the drought. Here, though, falling prices are the problem. Farmers selling for as little as 70 dollars a cow. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEHLOGONOLO MARETELA, FARMER, SAYING: "It's better off getting a few rands for your remaining livestock as opposed to them dying due to drought and lack of rain and stuff, so yes, it's better off selling at a lower price than getting nothing out of your remaining livestock." Maize, too and other crops could be at risk. The culprit: thought to be the El Nino weather system. The government's earmarked around 32 million dollars for the worst hit regions. The money will help, says farming economist Ernest Janovsky - this year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ERNEST JANOVSKY, AGRICULTURE ANALYST, SAYING: "It is purely, are they going to have a harvest next year because if they're not going to have a harvest then we're going have three years of underperforming rain and that is when the trick starts because that will be the fourth year … that is when the trouble starts." Some cattle are in too poor a condition to make it to the auction pen. No sale means no returns at all for some owners. The casualties mounting in this war against the weather.