SONA fails to acknowledge farmers, drought

Agri Eastern Cape has expressed disappointment about President Jacob Zuma’s 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

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 Doug Stern, president of Agri Eastern Cape, said the importance of South Africa’s farmers for food security had been “conveniently omitted”.

The 2016 SONA has been regarded as the most important one yet for agriculture as farmers battle to continue production under severe drought conditions.

In a statement prior to the address, Agri SA president Johannes Möller said farmers were struggling to farm productively and this was increasing the risk of farm worker retrenchments. Möller said he hoped the president would provide direction on these issues for the sector.

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Zuma said that the government would continue to support the agriculture sector in provinces affected by the drought. Here he singled out the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga; the Eastern Cape was not mentioned.

“What [Zuma] failed to mention is the action that would be forthcoming to farmers who are in desperate need of assistance as a result of the drought,” said Stern in a statement.

“The address was not stimulating or refreshing as the president did not deliver anything positive relating to agriculture.”

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