More than 100 drought-stricken Northern Cape sheep farmers, who have been struggling to keep their livestock fed and supplied with water, have been thrown a lifeline by two local wind energy farms.
The Loeriesfontein and Khobab Wind Farms have collaborated to respond to a formal request for drought relief support from commercial and developing sheep farmers from 118 farms in their surrounding areas.
“Farmers, some of whom are facing ruin, are desperate for assistance that will help them cope with the situation and aid in avoiding the economic knock-on effect that will [negatively] impact the local community of Loeriesfontein,” said Vanessa Fredericks, economic development manager at Loeriesfontein Wind Farm.
According to a statement issued by the two wind farms, sheep farming was at the heart of the town of Loeriesfontein and “the crippling effect” of the drought was “threatening to directly affect an estimated 177 households that account for over 20% of this community”.
The statement added that with over 600 Loeriesfontein people earning a living from farming, the survival of the local sheep-farming industry could not be left to chance.
“Working together with the three farming unions, the [support] programme ensures that the historically disadvantaged community of Loeriesfontein has been prioritised.
The support programme [is] providing assistance to emerging farmers and commercial farmers in a 65:35 split,” the statement said.
Commercial farmers receiving support from the two wind farms had also given an undertaking that, for the duration of this support programme, they would not lay off any farmworkers from the local community, except for compelling legal reasons.
The support programme would run for three months from July, the statement said.