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Farmers' Kraal | Why farmers love the rain

2022-02-01  Charles Tjatindi

Farmers' Kraal | Why farmers love the rain

Charles Tjatindi

Finally, the rain that many farmers have been hoping for has descended in many parts of the country. For a moment, our worries of a possible or looming drought seem to have been quenched by the falling rain. It is good to live in the moment and enjoy the blessings of the showers, but we cannot afford to be complacent. 

The relationship between a farmer and the rain is a unique one; even the smell of fresh showers on the soil makes the farmer’s mind race. But after doing the rain dance with a jackal skin on our backs, we need to allow reality to set in. 

We need to be constantly planning for “What if” for we do not know what tomorrow holds. One way we can make sure we make optimum use of the rain is to find ways to harvest rainwater. 

Every year, millions of millimetres of rain is drained into the soil or evaporate – whichever version you prefer – without being put to proper use. And when the clouds clear and the sunny days return, we regret the chances we never took. It is high time we outgrow such complacency and adopt a proactive approach to the issue. 

Water is undoubtedly an important resource that is used in our daily lives. It is used in vitally important sectors of the economy, such as the agriculture sector. Farmers use water to grow crops, and not only is water used to grow crops but it is also used to process agricultural products before they can be sent to the marketplace. 

Even when they reach markets and are bought by consumers, water is still needed to transform raw food items into edible forms. Water is indisputably an essential resource used by everyone linked to the agriculture sector. 

Rainwater harvesting has been used globally to address water scarcity for various ecosystem uses, including crop irrigation requirements, and to meet the water resource needs of a growing world population. 

Water harvesting and storage is gaining increasing importance in arid and semi-arid regions throughout the world as water becomes increasingly scarce, due to changing climatic conditions, erratic weather events or the unsustainable use of existing water. With this technique, rainwater is captured, usually in a pond or earth dam on a farm. 

Water harvesting acts as a buffer against drought, providing water for livestock and a limited capacity for irrigation and fire protection. 

Rain-fed agriculture is a low-input system. Depending on total annual rainfall and its distribution, as well as the type of soil, productivity can vary greatly from moderate to low. 

Agriculture that depends on rain is riskier with the possibility of crop failures in drier areas due to erratic and unpredictable rains. Rain-fed agriculture is generally more successful on soil that can store a lot of water (i.e. loamy and clayey soils). 

On the other hand, irrigated agriculture can be highly productive with low risk but at a high input cost (i.e., irrigation equipment, energy). 

Let us make sure we are not caught off guard when winter approaches and the rains are gone. Remember, agriculture feeds the nation and water is a vital part of the agriculture sector. One way or the other, we need water to work for us. 


2022-02-01  Charles Tjatindi

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