Agri SA welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, that the proclamation of drought relief would be extended by a further month. Agri SA made this request to the minister and are happy that she had heeded the request.
The summer rainfall season passed without sufficient rain in most of the regions afflicted by devastating drought conditions. The lingering drought has had far-reaching consequences for agriculture and has been catastrophic for local economies in the drought-stricken areas. In the Western Cape, a lower than normal winter rainfall season could exacerbate the problem.
Funds needed for drought relief on farms
Since the national state of disaster was declared on 4 March this year and the minister of finance’s budget speech, there has been no government intervention to mitigate the consequences of the drought. On 5 June, the minister of finance issued another notice in the Government Gazette (no. 43398) to provide for the immediate provision of unallocated disaster relief funds. However, it is unknown to Agri SA if the R466,4 million referred to is for COVID-19 or drought disaster relief.
“Farmers urgently require assistance if their farming operations, workers and communities and the fragile local economies are to survive. We are hopeful that some of the funds will be put towards much needed drought relief,” said Willem Symington, head of Agri SA’s Disaster Management Unit.
Request for report on drought relief be made public
Agri SA also called on the government to provide financial assistance to farmers who are affected by the drought in the form of stock feed, water infrastructure, drills, equipment, upgrading of boreholes and other interventions that could help soften the burden of those who are suffering. Agri SA asked that a report on drought relief spending in terms of the national disaster be made available. Agri SA and its members have used the funds donated by the private sector and other donations since 2015 to assist many of the affected farming communities.
Agri SA will continue to exert pressure on the government for proactive disaster relief through projects and financial support for all affected farmers, farmworkers, and communities. – Press release, Agri SA