Industry association Agri South Africa (Agri SA) has welcomed an announcement by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that the drought relief available for farmers will be extended for a further month.
The industry made this request to the Minister earlier, as a result of the summer rainfall season having passed without sufficient rain in most of the regions afflicted by devastating drought conditions in the country.
Dlamini-Zuma said on June 4 that South Africa would be in a national state of disaster until at least July 4, in terms of the drought. She initially declared the drought state of disaster in early March this year.
When drought was also declared a national disaster in March 2018, government provided R430-million in relief, by way of grants, to farmers. Whenever a state of disaster is declared, government is obligated to fight disruption, provide relief and deal with the destructive effects of the disaster, among others.
“Farmers urgently require assistance if their farming operations, workers, communities and the fragile local economies are to survive. We are hopeful that some of the funds announced by the Minister of Finance on June 5 will bring some drought relief,” says Agri SA disaster management head Willem Symington.
He is referring to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s notice issued in the Government Gazette of the immediate provision of unallocated disaster relief funds valued at R466-million. Agri SA was not sure whether this relief related to Covid-19 or drought disaster relief.
The association requested that a report on drought relief spending in terms of the national disaster be made available.
Agri SA has also asked 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 lighten the burden of those suffering.