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Drought relief extension welcomed, but urgent assistance is now needed


Agri SA welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, that the proclamation of drought relief would be extended by a further month. Agri SA made this request earlier to the minister and we are happy that she had heeded to the request.

The summer rainfall season has passed without sufficient rain in most of the regions afflicted by devastating drought conditions. The lingering drought has had far-reaching consequences for agriculture and has been catastrophic for local economies in the drought-stricken areas. In the Western Cape, a lower-than-normal winter rainfall season could exacerbate the problem.

Since the national state of disaster was declared on 4 March 2020 and the Minister of Finance’s budget speech, there has been no government intervention to mitigate the consequences of the drought. Today, June 5, 2020, the Minister of Finance issued another notice in Government Gazette, no. 43398 to provide for the immediate provision of unallocated disaster relief funds. However, it is unknown to Agri SA if the R466.4 million referred to is for COVID-19 or drought disaster relief.

“Farmers urgently require assistance if their farming operations, workers and communities and the fragile local economies are to survive. We are hopeful that some of the funds that were announced today will be utilised towards much-needed drought relief,” said Willem Symington, Head of Agri SA’s Disaster Management Unit.

Agri SA also called on the government to provide financial assistance to farmers who are affected by the drought in the form of stock feed, water infrastructure, drills, equipment, upgrading of boreholes, and other interventions that could help to soften the burden of those who are suffering. Agri SA also asked that a report on drought relief spending in terms of the national disaster be made available. Agri SA and its members have used the funds donated by the private sector and other donations since 2015 to assist many of the affected farming communities.

Agri SA will continue to exert pressure on the government for proactive disaster relief through projects and financial support for all affected farmers, farmworkers, and communities.

Enquiries:
Willem Symington
Head: Disaster Management Unit
(C) 084 592 7474

Andrea Campher
Disaster Risk Manager
(C) 079 8872174