Drought threatens harvests near and far

Thursday, February 01, 2024
Our Stories

I usually call the first two weeks of June our rainy season, but it just didn’t come again this year…

Murray Giles, Albertan farmer

In the 40 years he’s been farming, Albertan farmer Murray Giles says these dry conditions are the worst he’s ever seen.

Murray and his wife Dawn own a medium-sized family farm near High River – one of the first areas to be declared a state of emergency due to drought in Alberta this summer. He estimates only one third of their annual rainfall has fallen.

“I usually call the first two weeks of June our rainy season, but it just didn’t come again this year… and we’re coming off two really dry years before that. Some of the crops didn’t even germinate.

“In an average year we’ll put up around 600 round bales, and this year we got 58, so we’re just really short on feed… there’s not going to be much for harvest there.

Despite spending extra money this year on renting grass nearby for cattle, Murray is quick to count their blessings, especially when he hears of other farmers in their region who are having to sell their cows as a result of the drought conditions.

“A lot of these guys have put years or lifetimes into building a herd, and it’s devastating for them… we’re truly blessed in so many ways. This is just the situation we’re in right now. But it will rain again.

Two farmers standing in a field with their dog.

Murray and Dawn Giles are both involved in the Foothills growing project, west of Calgary. (Photo: Supplied)

That is the prayer of Grace Gwenhure in Zaka, Zimbabwe – that the rain would come again.

“Rainfall was very low and there were prolonged dry spells throughout the season,” said Grace, “and the expected yields were very low.”

In a normal season, Grace and her husband Ludeson Dada usually harvest over a tonne of maize, but the impacts of drought brought her harvest down to just 250 kilograms. Rivers that usually supply drinking water for her cattle are now drying up, and her grazing land for cattle has also been affected by the low rainfall.

To improve her situation, Grace is engaging in additional income-generating activities like vegetable production (with support from Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, in partnership with ERDO), using the money she earns to buy maize for her family’s next meal.

Please join us in prayer for farmers in Canada, Zimbabwe, and many places in between, as they hope for desperately needed rain, and a good harvest season.

This story was originally published in the 2023 Fall edition of Breaking Bread. Download or order your copy here.

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