South African Farmers Want Drought Province Named Disaster Area

South Africa’s North West province could soon be declared a disaster area by the government as a drought in the region becomes “critical,” according to a body representing farmers in the continent’s largest corn producer.

Damage caused by the lack of rainfall could reach 2 billion rand ($196 million) because 40 percent to 50 percent of the province’s crops have been destroyed, said Kosie van Zyl, an adviser to Agri SA, the country’s main farmers’ organization.

“In some cases, farmers have no yields of maize and sunflower whatsoever,” Van Zyl said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Local authorities and the premier of North West are still considering the reports on the drought.”

The province accounts for 16 percent of the nation’s corn, according to the South African Grain Information Service. Inadequate rainfall in some main growing regions has prompted analysts and traders at BVG (Pty) Ltd., Senwes Ltd. and Farmwise Grains (Pty) Ltd. to predict lower-than-average yields for South African farmers.

Meal made from white corn is one of the country’s staple foods and the yellow variety is chiefly used as animal feed.

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