Destock during drought, govt advises farmers
Amathole District Municipality is severely affected by the province-wide drought that is ravaging the farming community of the Eastern Cape. Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality is one of the most severely affected municipalities in both the District of Amathole and the province.
As part of the relief mechanisms, this month MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Nomakhosazana Meth handed-over feed to the farmers in Middledrift and Alice as part of the mitigation programme. In an attempt to persuade farmers to destock, farmers in close proximity are encouraged to make use of the feedlot in Fort Cox Agricultural College.
The department handed over 57.6 tons of Lurcene and hay which equate to 2 240 bales to the drought-stricken livestock farmers. Meth said the handing over of the feed is an ongoing programme, not a one-day event.
“Every affected district is set to benefit, but we can’t deliver the feed in one day across the province because we have to give due attention to each area where we hold engagements with the farmers to find long-lasting solutions to the problem at hand than just dropping the feed and leave,” said Meth.
The distribution in Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality started with a robust engagement with the drought committee and all other relevant stakeholders at the Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Forestry. At the centre of the discussions were livestock feed production and a destocking strategy which Meth said would ease the burden on struggling farmers.
“Our farmers need to open their eyes and see the value of their livestock. Government cannot continue throwing money on such programmes where farmers breed livestock for prestige. Farm to make money so you can be able to use it in such cases than depending on government bailouts. Now we have situations where farmers have large herds of livestock which they can’t sustain. Sell your livestock now while it still has value than watch it die,” she said.
1 760 50kg bags of fattening concentrates were handed over to the Fort Cox Feed Lot Co-operative worth R500 000. The co-operative which officially started last year houses Grade C 60 cattle where they are fed and prepared for the market.
Chairperson for Fort Cox Feed Lot Co-operative, Mazwi Rara said the cattle they have at the custom feedlot would be ready to be sold in April.
“The co-operative consists of 12 members, but it is open to everyone to bring their cattle, so it is readied for the market. The feed that we received today will make a huge difference as we are busy trying to convince other fellow farmers to destock and make money because the primary reason for farming is to make money,” said Rara.
Meth also encouraged the Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Forestry to assist in developing rural subsistence farmers to penetrate the commercial market.