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February 28, 2010

Floods destroy crops in South Africa

Some 400ha of crops including maize, potatoes, pumpkins and dry beans at the Vaallus Irrigation Scheme outside Douglas in the Northern Cape , were destroyed by recent floods, according to a preliminary damage report.

More than 1 000ha of irrigated crops were, on the other hand, damaged by drought. This was due to farmers having to remove irrigation pumps and equipment from the river before it was flooded. Although most of the farmers were able to restore the pumps, the yields will be seriously affected, according to agribusiness GWK’s Gellie Geldenhuys.

GWK is finalising the report in conjunction with Northern Cape Agri and the agriculture department.

Meanwhile Santam’s regional manager for the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern and Western Cape, Kobus Claassens has estimated the damage caused by a hailstorm earlier in February to crops, mainly maize, between Wesselsbron and Bothaville, at between R30 million and R35 million. About 11 000ha were hit by the storm. Only 5 500ha were insured against hail damage. The damage was between 2% and 100%.

“In Douglas, the water levels are decreasing markedly and the majority of farmers are back on track, it’s too late for the crops,” said Geldenhuys. “I can’t say how many farmers were insured against flood damage, but one must keep in mind that irrigated crops can only be insured for a maximum of 70% of the damage.”

The level of the Vaal River in the Bloemhof area has fallen under the traditional flood line, according to the local district farmers union’s Ernst Viljoen. Farmers are repairing irrigation infrastructure but serious damage was done to the irrigation pivots, amongst others. “It’s impossible to even make an educated guess about the extent of the damage, he said. “We’ll only be able to do that once all the flooded houses and buildings are accessible again.” 


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