DA urges government to provide drought relief

The drought in South Africa is a societal challenge and not just an agricultural problem, according to Noko Masipa, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

DA urges government to provide drought relief
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He said that unless urgent steps were taken to provide relief to drought-stricken farmers, the farming sector of South Africa could be faced by financial devastation.

“For this reason, the DA is calling on Thoko Didiza [minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development] to offer a relief package to farmers to enable them to keep losses caused by the drought to a minimum while providing them with incentives to prepare for the next farming season,” Masipa said.

READ The importance of veld management after drought

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He stated that while it seemed that government did not have sufficient funds, a community-driven approach was called for.

Mapisa told Farmer’s Weekly that the time had come for all role players in the agriculture sector to come together to devise ways and means to support the farmers affected by the drought. This included commercial banks, agribusinesses, SOEs, organised agriculture and the state.

“The drought affects every person in the country. The matter needs to be addressed right now, not after the fact,” he said.

According to Masipa, there was a “leadership vacuum from the side of government”, while a drought relief package was of the essence to lessen the impact of the drought on agricultural producers’ financial bottom line.

The latest indications from the Crop Estimates Committee were indeed grim. Estimates for the maize summer crop show that the 2024 harvest, for instance, will drop to 13,26 million tons, down from the 16,43 million tons harvested the season before.

“While this is still enough to cover our domestic consumption needs, the reduced harvest will negatively impact exports and lead to job losses in agriculture, the largest employer in the country. Consumers have been struggling to make ends meet for a long while now, and they simply cannot afford to absorb another food price shock,” he said.

READ Rebuilding a livestock enterprise after a drought

Masipa described South Africa’s farmers as the cornerstone of the country that kept its citizens fed and nourished.

Therefore, the state had an obligation to come to their aid. Failure to provide them with urgent drought relief assistance now will have dire consequences for our food security in the future, he said.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.