WANDILE SIHLOBO: Trend-bucking summer rains are cause for optimism
La Niña year will bring higher precipitation for Southern Africa throughout summer
SA’s agricultural sector is having an upbeat start to the year. This optimism is a welcome change from the usual heightened uncertainty that has characterised the beginning of each of the past few years. Since the severe drought of 2014 we have been experiencing more frequent dry periods each season that have generally dampened farmers’ sentiment.
Over the past few years this time of the year had many of us in agriculture worried about whether farmers would complete their intended planting as various regions would typically be too dry. Such dryness was the case at the start of 2020, when many of us doubted the agricultural sector would recover fully from 2019’s contraction. It was only towards the end of January 2020, when SA had widespread, consistent rain, that the outlook for agriculture turned positive...