New disaster foundation formed to aid stricken farmers

New disaster foundation formed to aid stricken farmers
Two fires, burning about 50km apart, have destroyed around 100 000ha of veld in the Northern Cape.
Photo: Bets Botes/Facebook
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The Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation has been established to relieve the plight of farmers and farmworkers as wildfires rage, drought conditions persist and a locust plague looms.

“This foundation ties in with Agri SA’s drought relief fund (started in 2016), but it allows us to help farmers and farmworkers struggling with other disasters as well,” Andrea Campher, Agri SA’s head of risk management, told Farmer’s Weekly.

The foundation was formed around the time of the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal during July. “A need arose to issue article 18 certificates (for tax exemption) to donors, and this foundation allows us to do so,” Campher explained.

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At the time of publishing, wildfires had just been brought under control in three provinces, namely the Free State, North West and Northern Cape.

At the same time, drought conditions were still prevalent in parts of the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, while major locust infestations were expected due to the forecast for heavy rainfall across large parts of the country in the upcoming season.

“We have already received information about locust outbreaks in some of these [regions], and they have not even received rain yet,” Campher said.

In all these instances, feed shortages could become a serious challenge, Campher added. “We are at the end of the lucerne season and feed levels are low.”

Because government was facing budgetary constraints, farmers were very reliant on donations from the public, Campher explained. “Even if the [fire ravaged] areas were to be declared disaster areas by government, there won’t be state funding available to aid our farmers.”

Nicol Jansen, chairperson of Agri Northern Cape, said the association estimated that about 100 000ha of land had been destroyed by two wildfires that raged about 50km apart in the Hopetown region of the Northern Cape since Monday, 27 September.

“We’re still taking stock. Smoke made it impossible to calculate the extent of the damage yesterday,” Jansen said. “Farmers will only start to figure out how much stock they lost today. Luckily, we haven’t heard any reports of human lives lost.”

Naudé Pienaar, deputy general manager of Agri North West, said since the beginning of the fire season, more than 600 000ha of land had been burnt down in the province.

“This figure keeps on increasing. Over the weekend fires [also] raged in the Magaliesberg mountains and destroyed lots of game. Unfortunately, I don’t have exact figures available.”

  • For more information on the Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation and Section 18A enquiries, email [email protected]. Donations can be made to the Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation at Absa Bank, Business Cheque Account no. 41-0189-9421, Branch Code: 632-005.