A lifeline for farmers

2015-11-23 10:29
Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Cyril Xaba greets livestock farmers at an event to announce drought relief measures.

Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Cyril Xaba greets livestock farmers at an event to announce drought relief measures. (Mbuyiselo Ndlovu)

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Pietermaritzburg - The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has a R114 million drought lifeline for farmers.

This emerged at a meeting that MEC Cyril Xaba had with livestock farmers on Saturday.

“The lifeline is one of several steps taken by the department to assist farmers facing the ravages of the drought. The department started a while back, searching within its own coffers for funds to roll out a lifeline for farmers,” Xaba said.

Of the total, R60 million will subsidise production inputs for farmers, including those in the commercial sector.

“The lifeline subsidy will be on a sliding scale and will be capped. Subsistence and smallholder farmers will get a 100% assistance. There will be an 80% subsidy for medium-sized farms and 20% for large commercial operations. The subsidy will be for feed, multi-vitamins and dips. It will also go towards water facilities such as Jojo tanks, troughs and pipes.”

Farmers will have to register to participate and will receive the subsidy on buying any relevant items through outlets listed on the drought database.

The scheme will run for three months and department officials will be available to provide assistance. Records will also be kept to ensure there is no abuse of the system.

“A communication strategy has been formulated to alert farmers to the scheme and to ensure they have all the information on how to make use of it to get relief,” said Xaba.

Another R9 million will be spent on de-worming livestock and the remaining R44 million will be used to dig 75 dams and rehabilitate 62 boreholes where water sources have dried out.

“The department has also asked the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to drop some water into the farmers’ Jojo tanks as they distribute water to communities,” he said.

“We are losing our livestock and crops are dying. We are not going to get our expected yields. We are also in the planting season and a day lost takes us closer to the end of the planting season.”

Xaba said the department also advised some farmers to consider planting beans and soya instead of maize — beans and soya are more drought resistant.

“Another way to fight the drought is to practise conservation farming and better crop management. Our extension officers are advising farmer on these methods. It is a matter of farming with nature and not against it,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  farmers

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