Agricultural industry association Agri SA has called for emergency assistance from government, either as State guarantees or direct assistance through the structures of the Land Bank, agribusinesses or special purpose vehicles, to assist farmers affected by the ongoing drought.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Agri SA said it was time for government to assist drought-stricken commercial and smallholder farmers, noting that it was worried about their viability going forward.
“A drought is not just a one-year event and cash flow and production credit issues will be with us for the next two to three years,” CEO Omri van Zyl remarked, adding that any assistance would be welcomed.
Agri SA wants to set up a long-term disaster fund for farmers, but cannot do it alone and will require financial muscle from the National Treasury of other State entities, the private sector and any other contributors.
“We represent a major tax base as the farming sector and as citizens of South Africa, taxpayers and contributors to the economy; it’s a shame that the commercial and emerging farming sectors have not received any assistance from government,” Agri SA president Johannes Moller said.
“South African Airways has been sustained by State guarantees of R14.4-billion with an additional R5-billion from Treasury that was just approved, while State-owned Eskom, with State guarantees amounting to R466-billion, has reached its ‘prudency’ limit in this regard,” he states, adding that the agriculture sector has not received any financial assistance from government during the drought.