Much needed rain in the past couple of months has helped to alleviate pressure on South African farmers in a number of provinces, but significant rainfall over the next few months is essential to ensure the full replenishment of irrigation dams, agricultural economists have warned. "Eight provinces were declared drought disaster areas early in 2016, which indicates both the severity and extent of the drought," said John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber, this week. Fanie Brink, an independent agriculture analyst, said the general outlook at the end of 2016 was much better than a year ago. "Grazing was restored very well in those areas that were blessed with good rains," Brink said. But some areas remained dry. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is expected to release preliminary information later this month about the areas planted with maize and other crops such as soya beans and sunflowers, and the first harvest forecasts. Purchase said these cro...

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