'Please help us' - emerging farmers ask government to reconsider water licence system

2019-02-16 07:15

The Department of Water and Sanitation needs to focus on the system of water licences in order to fully transform the water sector, emerging farmers have told the department.

They were speaking during an interactive session in Boksburg on Friday, where hundreds of delegates and stakeholders from the water sector interacted with Minister Gugile Nkwinti.

Jabu Zungu, a farmer from Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, said that as upcoming farmers, they were suffering from paying huge debts for water that they were not even consuming on their farms.

"When you issue the water licence, it already has the quantity of water consumption, but practically, you would find that you don't use that water, but you are liable for it, even if you do not use it," Zungu said.

"We find ourselves paying these amounts. It's like paying for one commodity twice, and it becomes practically impossible to settle," he added.

She said that this crippled them.

She added that the status quo within the sector was not working, because they did not have any meter readings on their farms to measure their water usage.

"So, you cannot bill us like the farms that are already developed, that are already having the infrastructure and everything in place. We are the new entrants. So please help us and look at us as land reform farmers in your transformation," she pleaded.

Implementation

Other farmers had similar worries.

"The greatest concern as emerging farmers, especially in rural areas, is that there is no infrastructure, there is no water for farmers," one farmer said.

Gugu Zondi, another farmer, said it was time the department implemented water allocations to farmers.

"We are farmers, we live with farm dwellers and we also have farm schools. If we have drought, we are the ones who suffer, it's worse when you're a woman," Zondi said.

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The emerging farmers also suggested that they be given some sort of grace period before water licensing policies also applied to them.

"I wonder if it were possible to say, yes, water licence is important. But can emerging farmers be given sort of, like a period, to say like maybe, in three or five years, you won't get help if you don't have a water licence."

During his opening remarks, Nkwinti said the meeting had been organised in order to have interactions with water users, in order to get to know their challenges on the ground.

"There are user authority services, there are water service authorities, we want to hear from you, on what are your experiences on the ground, your experiences about how we service you," Nkwinti said.

Read more on:    gugile nkwinti  |  johannesburg  |  service delivery  |  water  |  agriculture
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