Free State farmers, who have been affected by heavy rains, say they are yet to recover from the impact.

Farmers in Bultfontein, Wesselsbron, and Hoopstad are counting their losses following two weeks of the heavy downpour. It has caused massive damage to crops and road infrastructure.

Heavy rainfalls and flash floods have left a trail of destruction to a number of farms. Some farmers had to evacuate their flooded houses and farms.

Assistance from government

Maize farmer, Reuben Motlhabane, says damages to his farm are estimated at more than R1.5 million.

“Yes, it has affected the land that we already planted. The crops, the fields are full of water. The house is full of water. The storage is full of water. Inside there was fertiliser which is now no more. I am in deep trouble now because I have a production loan with Senwes for me to plant the land here. I am in trouble, the land is full of water. I can’t spare the land to make the top dressing. I am appealing to President Ramaphosa and Minister Thoko Didiza to come down and see problems here.”

Another farmer, Hermanus Meiring, has appealed to the government to assist.

“We want assistance. The Department of Roads can help us, please. We have pipes. We must come and fix all the roads because all the staff is on the land to harvest and bring it to the silos.”

Farmworker, Moeketsi Mabitsi, says his family is lucky to survive after they were trapped by floods.

“Yes, we are lucky to survive because the water was too much. It was actually flooding this side. So, we took our children and ran away.”

Farmers’ organisation, Free State Agriculture General Manager, Jack Armour, says they are holding their collective breath that heavy rains cease to fall in order to harvest wheat and allow maize to grow.

“The roads are in a terrible state at moment. There is a couple of roads, many … not just a couple. It’s about 10 roads that are impossible. So, the farmers are stuck there. There is wheat that has to be harvested, but farmers cannot get on the land. The late plants of maize and soya and sunflower are taking a lot of strain with all the rain and water log in the earlier planting of maize where the maize is high they can withstand a little bit of waterlogging better.”

More rain expected 

Weather forecaster, Siyabonga Mpati, says more rain is being predicted in the coming days.

“We are expecting disrupting rainfall over the western and southern parts of the Free State today due to heavy rainfall and flash flood guidance, which indicates areas of concern where flooding might occur. For the week, we are expecting cloudy to partly cloudy and cool to warm temperatures that can be expected throughout the province. And also, we are expecting thunderstorms over most parts of the province throughout the week. As from 13 to 15 – from Wednesday to Friday – we are expecting severe storms to occur over the province. However, the eastern parts of the province are likely to see storms that could lead to flooding.”

The areas such Bultfontein and Hoopstad have experienced a seven-year drought until a recent downpour.