With the new year only having begun it seems the challenges faced last year still continue to persist as farmers across the country continue to battle a crippling drought which is believed could be the worst in many years.
Farmers aren’t the only ones who continue to suffer the wrath of this drought, at least 31 000 agricultural workers have already lost their jobs; as a result. The Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape and North West have been particularly hard-hit, with the Western Cape said to be of concern now, Agri SA reports.
Added to the massive job losses; the agricultural industry lost approximately R7 billion in turnover due to the drought with about 70% of farmers, whose primary source of income is through livestock, warning that water availability is now at a critical level, with limited animal feed also causing panic.
In the most recent financial year, most industries have reported severe loss accounting to millions, as Agri SA looks to the future it says; farmers need almost R3 billion in financial aid from the government to deal with the effects of the drought properly. The industry will also require extended production loan terms, distribution of fodder, humanitarian assistance and financial assistance.
Comments from Agriec president
Dougie Stern, president of Agri Eastern Cape also voiced out his concerns about the drought that continues to cripple the sector in the province.
“It is a sad reality that we have had absolutely no assistance as commercial farmers from both national or provincial governments. Agri SA has been negotiating hard with the national government for national disaster assistance, but nothing has been forthcoming, and it appears that the disaster relief fund has been exhausted,” Stern said.
Stern also said he will be making an appointment with the Eastern Cape MEC for Agriculture because the farmers are without a doubt in trouble, more so if it doesn’t rain within the next two months the situation is going to become dire.
To make a bad situation even worse, over R220-million meant for drought-stricken farmers in KwaZulu-Natal has gone missing, the money was given by the national government to KZN for drought relief. The province was declared a disaster area following a crippling drought in 2015.
As things continue to look bleak and no possible solution close, we hope all the stakeholders can be able to find common ground and forge a way forward.