Agriculture welcomes drought relief for Cape areas
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THE agricultural sector has welcomed yesterday’s declaration by the National Disaster Management Centre that it would give farmers in the drought stricken areas of the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape much-needed relief.
The National Disaster Management Centre called on state organs to strengthen existing structures and activate contingency plans to address the disaster. It further requested the SANDF, SAPS and any other organ of state to support the National Disaster Management Centre to prepare and submit reports on the drought.
Parts of the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape have faced an average of six to nine years of drought. These areas have had to receive relief through various state interventions. Further assistance was said to be urgently needed to stabilise local economies and preserve what was left of core breeding herds.
Willem Symington, Agri SA’s chairperson of the natural resources centre of excellence, said it was a positive step by the government to recognise the plight of these areas by declaring a disaster.
“We hope there will be sufficient action and assistance to help the agricultural sector and local economies to cope with the effects of the catastrophic drought,” said Symington.
Andrea Campher, Agri-SA risk and disaster manager, said red tape and an insufficient budget for drought relief had deprived farmers and farmworkers in the drought-stricken areas of their livelihood.
Agri SA, in collaboration with Agri Western Cape, Agri Eastern Cape and Agri Northern Cape, launched a drought project this month.
Agri Western Cape chief executive Jannie Strydom said certain parts of the Western Cape were experiencing drought conditions for the seventh consecutive year. Producers in the Matzikama district, as well as the Central and Little Karoo, had not had any significant rain so far this year.
In April, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture supported 1 115 farmers in critical and extremely critical drought-stricken areas with animal feed donations worth R12.2 million. Funds from the national level would support and promote this.