Drought relief for Eastern Cape farmers
By Khuthala Nandipha
An amount of R74 million has been allocated for drought relief for farmers. MEC for the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Nomakhosazana Meth also unveiled detailed activities to alleviate the plight of the farming community in the drought-stricken province.
Meth said the amount was a provisional allocation based on the respective severity of drought across districts. In January 2019 the Department allocated of R42 million for drought intervention. The funds were used for de-silting of dams, installation of weather stations and provision of animal feed to farmers.
Farmers seeking relief had to apply by November 22, 2019. However, this is a small drop on dry soil as the province needs R643 million to mitigate the drought effects. The department has since made a submission to the national government to intervene.
“We need our farmers to be proactive in dealing with this disaster and not fold their arms. Hence we are interacting with organised farmers’ unions to say ‘we should work together to find the best ways to attend to this,” said Meth.
The drought has negative impacts on livestock and crop production caused by reduced fodder supply and water shortages. In the year 2019/20, there have been significant reported numbers of livestock death due to extreme and severe drought.
The drought did not only affect commercial farmers but it also affected smallholder farmers for household food production including cropping. Delayed rains during the 2019/20 cropping season resulted in late soil preparations and planting.
The Premier of the province, Oscar Mabuyane said, “We have directed that the money to be used to drill boreholes in the areas that are hard hit by the drought. We also have an interdepartmental team that is coordinating the drought relief interventions in the province”.