The South African Insurance Association warns that extreme weather conditions can be expected.
The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has issued a warning on Tuesday (5 February) to people about the extreme weather conditions predicted for the first quarter.
The warning comes after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Climate Services Centre Bulletin released in the second half of 2018, forecasts a normal to below normal October 2018 to March 2019 rainfall season, while also pointing to a possibility of a debilitating dry spell punctuated by uneven rainfalls with sudden heavy rains that can lead to flooding and destruction of property and infrastructure.
The SADC’s concern for the non-life insurance sector is the possibility of a prolonged dry spell or heavy floods that could lead to reduced agricultural yields and catastrophic losses for the farming community, and the second concern will be the possible destruction of property and infrastructure as a result of floods.
SAIA highlighted, as reported in the bulletin, the possibility of early-onset rains, false starts to the season and prolonged dry spells, which could disturb the temporal and spatial distribution of rains at least until March this year.
The first quarter forecast, as predicted by SADC Climate Services Centre, is for normal to below-normal rainfall over the southern part of the region and normal to above-normal rainfall over the central parts.
“The potential for normal rainfall presents an opportunity for good agricultural performance, while the possibility of below-average rainfall presents risks that require preparedness and contingency planning,” said SAIA general manager Nico Esterhuizen.
Potential risks to the agricultural sector include limited water availability, poor grazing conditions, heat stress to crops and livestock, as well as more fires due to high temperatures.
The 2018/19 season also presents a good opportunity to maximise agricultural production, particularly in areas that normally receive good rainfall.
“From a crop production perspective, farmers can comprehensively utilise the forecast by committing a portion of their arable land to medium-to-late maturing and high-yield crop varieties. Farmers are encouraged to stagger their planting dates in consultation with extension and meteorological services.”