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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 4: Rainwater Catchment in Agriculture

Paper 4.6

Converting Rainwater Into Food Efficiently

J.J. Botha, J.J. Anderson, P.P. van Staden, L.D. van Rensburg, M. Hensley
ARC-Institute for Soil, Climate and Water
Private Bag X01
Glen, 9360
Republic of South Africa


The problem was highlighted in the 3 May 1999 issue of the official newsletter of the National Department of Agriculture in which it was reported that "..more than 14 million people in South Africa are vulnerable to food insecurity." This is a serious problem. One of the main factors limiting food production over large areas in South Africa is a shortage of water. It is also true that a large proportion of the rain that does fall is wasted. In other words it is not used productively to produce food. Every drop of rain that is wasted contributes to this problem of food insecurity. The problems is most serious for those people who depend on small areas of land to provide their food requirements. If we want to reduce food insecurity we therefore need to focus first on the needs of these people.

Rainfall use efficiency, and therefore crop yields, can be increased significantly in semiarid areas on fairly deep clay soils using a water conservation production technique which combines the benefits of water harvesting, no-till, mulching and basin tillage.

PDF of full document (4pp, 48kb)

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