With a sobering projection of impending drought conditions around January 2024, Thabo Mofosi, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition, has issued an urgent call to farmers, urging them to embark on their summer cropping activities well ahead of schedule.
This precautionary measure aims to counteract the expected dry conditions and minimise the potential impact on crop yields during the upcoming summer months.
Mofosiâ€™s sombre projection was unveiled during a recent media briefing, where he detailed the governmentâ€™s strategies and preparations for the approaching summer cropping season.
â€œWhile the precise weather outlook for October remains uncertain due to the dynamic nature of weather forecasts, we strongly advise farmers to be proactive and prepared,â€ said the minister.
In his address, Mofosi projected that the country might experience drought conditions around January 2024.
â€œConsidering the forecast that indicates a decrease in rainfall around January, we believe that early ploughing can enable our crops to reach a sufficient level of growth,â€ he explained.
He reaffirmed the governmentâ€™s commitment to supporting farmers by continuing to provide substantial subsidies for fertilizers and seeds during the summer cropping season.
â€œOur subsidies will cover 80 per cent of fertilizers and 70 per cent of seeds, along with chemicals,â€ he said.
In addition, the minister further explained, the government will strive to ensure widespread accessibility of farming equipment to assist farmers in their cultivation efforts.
â€œThrough our initiatives, we secured an 80 per cent subsidy on fertilizers and a 70 per cent subsidy on seeds and chemicals, ensuring that the cost of a fertilizer bag is reduced from M260 to M149,â€ he elaborated.
Eligibility for these subsidies necessitates a recommendation letter from the chief area, councilor, and centre of agriculture, a measure aimed at preventing stockpiling of resources by some farmers at the expense of others genuinely in need.
Discussing the recent past, Mofosi disclosed that the 2023 winter cropping production fell short of the planned target due to adverse weather conditions.
He said: â€œWhile the agreed plowing area was 2864.80 hectares, we managed to cover only 1520.44 hectares.â€
Mofosi also highlighted the introduction of technology designed to curtail moisture loss from fields, particularly through the efforts of 80 youth farmers who have received funding from the ministry.