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South Africa says drought cost farmers $1 billion

Published on 08/03/2016

South Africa's agriculture sector lost a billion dollars over the past year due to the worst drought in a century, the government announced on Tuesday.

Poor rain saw the agriculture sector contract by 14 percent, according to the latest figures from StatsSA.

The drought “resulted in losses worth 16 billion rand ($1 billion) across the sector,” an official statement said.

The continent’s most advanced economy grew by an annualised 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2015.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund predict that South Africa’s economic growth will be less than one percent in 2016.

Shortages resulting from the drought will see South Africa, the regional food basket, importing at least four million tonnes of the local staple maize.

Earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the country will need to import up to six million tonnes of food to avert hunger at home and meet its contractual export obligations to neighbouring countries.

The severe drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon has also affected most of the countries in the region, some of which traditionally rely on South Africa for food imports.

The government has set aside 502 million rand ($32 million)to deliver water and refurbish boreholes in some of the driest parts of the country.