Drought relief trickles down to service providers

About R9 million of the R20 million of drought relief funds held by the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (ECARD) for the 2009/10 financial year has been made available to service providers who supply farmers with fodder, said Agri Eastern Cape (Agri EC) vice-president Waymend Kritzinger.

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Government has assured Agri EC that the remaining R11 million will be paid to service providers by mid-November, he added. But the slowness of the process, with drought relief funds moving from national to provincial government and then to the service providers, has concerned Agri EC and it’s something they’ll be addressing with the agriculture department in the near future, said Kritzinger.

Meanwhile, one service provider, the Humansdorp Co-op, is still struggling to get its share of just over R1 million from the ECARD. According to Henk Achenbach, co-op CEO and chairperson of the Agricultural Business Chamber, a notification faxed to the co-op by the department wasn’t accepted by the bank.

“The bank checked the reference number on the notification and found it wasn’t valid,” said Achenbach. “Apparently the other service providers have been paid out. I don’t know why they picked on us,” he added. The ECARD couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of going to press. 

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