Deputy president says the lockdown disrupted drought relief processes.
WHILE the lockdown disrupted the provision of drought relief to farmers in the Northern Cape, the government has given the assurance that measures have been put in place to support drought-stricken farmers.
This is according to Deputy President David Mabuza, who was fielding questions in the National Assembly earlier this week.
Ahead of government declaring a national state of disaster due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, declared South Africa a national disaster area on March 4 after considering the impact of persisting drought conditions in many parts of the country.
In implementing this decision, the affected provinces, including the Northern Cape, were advised on the allocations and in response they needed to present their business plans on how these resources would be expended.
In the Northern Cape, a relief fund of R30 million was announced and a fodder bank was established. The Province embarked on the planting of maize and lucerne for fodder supply and the extension of irrigation and input costs for fodder production, which was to benefit 8 123 beneficiaries.
Addressing MPs on Thursday, Mabuza said the lockdown had disrupted the drought relief processes.
“The national lockdown disrupted this process as movement, which would have facilitated engagement with affected farmers, was limited,” said Mabuza.
“After the lifting of alert Level 4, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Minister of Cogta once again requested provinces to act on this matter in order to ensure that affected farmers are duly supported.
“We expect that the business plans will take into account the diminishing fiscal resources and the negative impact of Covid-19.”
Mabuza said that this called on government to reprioritise the available resources to respond to the impact of the pandemic.
“This means that resources may not always match the needs on the ground, including on this issue of drought.
“However, as government and all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, we should work together with a common purpose in ensuring that we optimise limited resources to sustain this important sector and save jobs.
“In the final analysis, the cumulative negative effects of climate change, resulting in severe drought and flooding, affects all of us, and as such, we have to find common ground and a unifying purpose to unlock the full potential of the agricultural sector presented by among others equitable land reform,” he said.
Other agricultural support projects in other provinces that were also affected included the drilling of boreholes in the Free State; making available livestock feed to targeted commercial, smallholder and subsistence farmers in KwaZulu-Natal; ongoing drilling of boreholes and supply of livestock feed in Limpopo; livestock feed intervention to communal and subsistence farmers in the North West; livestock feed and interventions supporting the development of a fodder bank in Mpumalanga; and fodder supply in the Western Cape.