Deputy president David Mabuza, and the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Thoko Didiza, recently engaged with Northern Cape farmers affected by drought.

Drought worse than ever

This happened during an outreach programme in the Khai-Ma Municipality in the Northern Cape. The intention of the meeting was for the leaders to engage drought-stricken farmers as well as meet with Khoi San representatives.

Prior to the engagement, the deputy president, Premier Zamani Saul, Minister Didiza, the MEC for Land Reform, Agriculture and Nature Conservation and Environmental Affairs, Nomandla Bloem, Pieter Groenewald and an entourage flew over drought-affected farms in the broader Namakwa area. The intention was to see the impact of the drought.

The Northern Cape is experiencing one of the worst droughts recorded since the start of the 20th century. The magnitude of this drought affects all five districts and it is recommended that all districts be declared as disaster areas, and that the drought is classified as a provincial disaster.

Deputy president and minister visit Maasdorp farm

Currently, below-average vegetation conditions are being experienced in most areas. Almost 15 500 farms, with a carrying capacity of 613 447 large stock units and covering more than 20 million ha, are severely affected. This figure is estimated to escalate to 1 million large stock units if above-normal rainfall does not occur in the coming season.

The party also visited the Zuurwater farm in Aggeneys in the Namakwa district. The purpose of the visit was to see how the 5 000ha farm was affected by drought. The farm is owned by the Maasdorp family, who currently has 22 head of cattle, 70 sheep and 30 goats. Due to drought, the family has had to reduce their livestock drastically.

Hester Maasdorp said the family appreciates the visit of the deputy president, minister, premier and MEC for visiting to see how the drought is affecting them. “The drought has really affected us and we had to sell our animals because we couldn’t afford to feed them all. We need your urgent help. We are trying our utmost best to bring some relief for our animals. Now we have reached the stage where our plans ran out. Government is our last hope and we hope that this visit will bring changes,” she said.

Minister pledges to help farmers

The deputy president mentioned that government is going to help Northern Cape farmers. “I really looked at this drought matter affecting our country and that is why we are here. This problem requires our services and we have to put our politics aside and assist our farmers. We are taking this matter seriously. Farmers are lucky to have Minister Didiza at the helm because she is passionate about agriculture,” he said.

Minister Didiza pledged to prioritise and support the farmers most affected by the drought. In conclusion, she said that the deputy president gave them an instruction to work with the province and she is going to comply. – Press release, DAFF