By Kwezikazi Mjuza
Both the South African economy and GDP are greatly dependent on the agriculture sector. In the second quarter of 2023, agriculture had contributed with R133 279.09 towards the South African GDP. South Africa is regarded as an agricultural country which makes it prone to be greatly affected by the climate crisis that the world is currently facing.
Agriculture encompasses the farming of both crops and livestock. Climate change greatly effects the farming and livelihood of both crops and livestock. With the earth progressively getting warmer, water supply rivers, wells, and dams are running dry due to evaporation. South Africa has been facing drought throughout the past five years and with there being insufficient water for human consumption, the animals and plants fall last in line in receiving water. This in turn reduces the quality of livestock and crops which then directly affects the GDP and the economy.
A farmer from Cofimvaba, Mphumzi Mvandaba said that year by year it is becoming progressively expensive to farm. “My concern used to be healthcare of my livestock, I never thought it would get to the point where I have to worry about my cows and sheep being dehydrated and starved”. Water windpumps, boreholes and solar paneled water pumps are expensive to install and maintain, he added.
Water is not the only concern of farmers but grass-fed cows are also on the receiving end of the wrath of climate change. Most cows within the Eastern Cape district are grass fed and when the grass dries up or does not grow due to heat and absence of water, livestock suffers because they then do not have enough food and will starve. To prevent this, farmers must also in turn spend money on supplements for the animals to make up for the lost nutrition.
Extreme measures have to be taken to secure and safeguard farming in South Africa because its economy had been dented due to the lockdown and it is yet to recover, South Africa cannot afford to lose one of its richest sectors which is farming and or agriculture.