ECONOMY / 7 JANUARY 2019, 08:30AM / SANDILE MCHUNU
DURBAN – The late summer rains, particularly in the western region of the country, have made it difficult to predict the agricultural forecast for the season ahead, say agricultural economists.
Wandile Sihlobo, an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said on Friday that the outlook for the sector was difficult to predict at the moment because some farmers started planting late in the season.
“The farmers in the western part of the country were initially affected by dry weather conditions. The summer rains were late in those regions, so they started their planting season late. At this stage, we can’t predict the quantity of crops expected during the harvesting season. We will have a clearer picture at the end of January,” Sihlobo said.
Sihlobo said the western region consisted of the farming areas in North West and Western Free State, while the eastern region of the country that had good summer rains included KwaZulu-Natal. The farmers in the eastern parts of the country start planting in mid-October to mid-November and the western parts start planting from mid-November to mid-December.
“The late rains in the west meant that the planting season was late and we cannot say for sure how many hectares of grain were planted during the period. We have to wait to get that information from the farmers as the week’s progress,” Sihlobo said.