Agri Eastern Cape president clarifies drought disaster aid comments

Agri Eastern Cape (Agri EC) president Douglas Stern has clarified his previous statements about government drought disaster aid for the province, which resulted in him coming in for criticism from the agriculture sector (‘We did not ask for drought relief – Eastern Cape farmers’; FW, 4 December 2015).

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In an interview with Farmer’s Weekly, Stern explained that he had not meant that drought-affected Eastern Cape farmers should not receive government aid.

“Bearing in mind that there were no areas within the Eastern Cape that had been declared as disaster areas, I suggested that it would have been unjust to take money from other provinces that had conformed to the necessary protocol of being declared as disaster areas.

I felt that we in the Eastern Cape were therefore not entitled to any of the money which was earmarked for the provinces who had followed the correct procedures,” said Stern.

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Stern said he was keenly aware of areas in his province where farmers were experiencing critically dry weather conditions and associated livestock losses.

“It was never my intention to deny any of my fellow farmers, commercial or emerging, any aid which they would rightfully be entitled to. I was merely trying to suggest that what is applicable for one province should be applicable to all, when it comes to receiving State aid. If this is not done, the whole process becomes subject to corruption,” he said.