Large parts of South Africa are currently in the grip of a major agriculturally debilitating drought. This together with the current heat wave affecting the majority of the country is putting the nation’s summer grain – specifically maize – and oil-seed crops at risk. Parts of the Free State, specifically Villiers and Sasolburg are currently facing imminent risk.
I have written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Machwene Semenya, requesting her to put the issue of the drought and the lack of support to farming communities on the agenda of the committee’s work.
The Portfolio Committee needs to look at possible ways to soften the impact of the drought and to come up with proposals on support packages. Some of the possible ways that the state can assist are:
Facilitating the issuing of low rate loans and credit facilities by the Landbank to help farmers address immediate cash flow needs
Creating a nation-wide plan to co-ordinate the provision of farm feed to drought stricken areas
Reviewing the protocol on the import of GM maize.
It is vital that the Minister intervene and take the steps outlined above as the expected loss to the industry is estimated to be in the region of R10 billion, according to Professor Johan Willemse, agricultural economist from University of the Free State.
The real impact of the drought will be felt hardest amongst poorer communities when the cost of food rises as a consequence. Some estimates predict that the cost of maize will increase by 30%. In this event many farmers will struggle to service their loans and may eventually be forced to sell their land.
The livelihoods and jobs of farmers and farm workers is at serious risk. If the government fails to intervene and curb the potentially devastating impact of drought on South Africa’s rural communities.
The DA will monitor the government’s forthcoming response to this very serious problem and will continue taking whatever action may be necessary to ensure that the lives and livelihoods of South Africa’s farming community are protected.
Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Source : Democratic Alliance