Hedge against the unexpected

This week African Farming visited Amos Njoro, who farms maize and soya beans in the Vaal. Although he was not hit as hard as some farmers were by this season’s unusually high rainfall, Njoro says his input costs have doubled.

Raised on a small-scale farm in Zimbabwe, African Farming’s new presenter, Tony Ndoro, is no stranger to the risks and challenges involved in farming. The weather, a mega-influencer in farmers’ lives, is the least predictable of all these – and probably the most vital to success in agriculture. 

In Njoro’s case, the wet conditions meant that he had to factor in extra applications of fertiliser and chemicals to overcome leaching. 

Praveen Dwarika, MD of Lemang Agricultural Services, says the season’s heavy rains kept farmers out of their lands at the beginning of the planting season. “Waterlogged fields meant farmers literally could not get into their lands and had to start planting much later than usual. Some farmers had to switch crops and plant sunflower instead of maize.” 

According to Dwarika, there is no way farmers can plan for unpredictable weather events, but they should always have a backup plan in place for times when their regular seasonal plans will not work. 

Resilience is key to survival in agricultural environments, and South African farmers have adapted effectively to drought and to extreme rainfall events, he says. “Our farmers have done very well this season. They have shown resilience, switching crops to work around the later-than-usual start.” This means food security in the country has not been compromised. 

Dwarika advises farmers to keep a close eye on the markets and to take advantage of price spikes. “Hedge as much as you can, as quickly as you can.” 

For more information visit www.afgri.co.za

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