Cape Town - The Budget Review states that South Africa is in the midst of its worst drought in at least two decades, threatening agricultural output and pushing up food prices.
Five provinces – North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga – were declared disaster areas in 2015, allowing for a coordinated national response. The review states that government has reprioritised R1bn for drought relief in 2015/16. The funds consist of:
• R502m from the Department of Water and Sanitation for drilling boreholes, buying water tankers and related measures.
• R318m from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (through conditional grants for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme and Ilima/Letsema projects) and from provincial governments for activities, such as moving cattle herds to state farms and transporting safe drinking water to drought-affected areas.
• R187m from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to distribute animal feed.
In addition, the 2016 Division of Revenue Bill proposes changes to disaster-relief grants to provinces and municipalities. These grants, which previously provided only for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by disasters, will also provide for operational costs incurred by provinces and municipalities to distribute water.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also said in his Budget Speech in the National Assembly that programmes aimed at revitalising agriculture included expenditure on small-scale farming and development of agri-parks in rural economies.
An amount of R2.8bn is allocated over the medium term to Fetsa Tlala, a food security initiative. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries aims to bring 120 000 hectares of land into productive use in the period ahead, benefitting 145 000 subsistence and smallholder producers each year.
He said this year already, the department of Water and Sanitation had reprioritised R502m to deliver water, protect springs and refurbish boreholes in response to drought conditions.
Funds had also been provided for feed and support for livestock farmers, and disaster relief measures. Additional drought response allocations would be made, as required, in the Adjustments Appropriation later this year.
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