Govt working to help farmers - Zokwana

2016-01-22 20:20
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Pretoria - The South African government said on Friday it was aware of the effect that the drought was having on farmers and the rest of the country.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwiti and MECs of all the provinces addressed the media about the drought crisis in South Africa.

According to Zokwana, the government - along with municipalities and other departments - were working together in an attempt to assist the farmers.

"Food security will be be severely affected by the drought, leading to low yields on crops or no planting," Zokwana said.

Zokwana added that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) would consider lending financial assistance to its existing clients, with R32m already approved and made available.

They had noticed that the weather conditions had been changing, albeit slowly, and that some areas had received some much needed rainfall. However, he also noted that the rainfall had not been nearly enough.

With regards to the individual provinces, Limpopo had received below average rainfall, with drought declared in five of its districts. Average dam levels in the province were at 63.4%.

An additional amount of R51m had been set aside - R20m for the procurement of fodder to assist the smallholder and subsistence farmers, and R31m for water for livestock.

Some 31 000 applicants had also received fodder in the province, with approximately 51 560 livestock affected by the drought.

In terms of crops, in the Eastern Cape only 15 169ha (35.7%) was planted, against a target of 42 500 ha.

Farmers in the province were also encouraged to prepare fire belts as a way of protecting the scarce fodder.

Boreholes were also a major concern as the drought-affected areas had cases where boreholes "went into a state of disrepair and could not deliver water".

The department, along with the department of water and sanitation, would implement an initiative where they would provide R19 280 000 for the required repair work on the boreholes and equipment.

In the Free State, it was estimated that production would be 2.3 million tons lower than in 2015.

White maize would have to be imported to satisfy domestic demand.

"The Free State Province allocated R10.692m and R29m from its Equitable Share and CASP Budget respectively to assist the subsistence, small holder and commercial farmers to deal with the drought."

Service providers were also appointed to drill and develop 132 boreholes to assist livestock with water.

In Mpumalanga R35m has been budgeted to go towards drought relief.

According to Nkwinti, his department had made R187m available for drought relief.

Read more on:    agriculture

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