The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is being allocated additional funds, including more than R180 million to fight disease and rebuild flood damage, finance minister Pravin Gordhan announced during his medium-term budget policy statement to parliament.
This includes almost R150 million which will go to help farmers recover from the damage caused by flooding at the start of the year and the harm caused by livestock disease, Gordhan said. But Hoffie Joubert, chair of Agri Northern Cape’s water affairs committee, said while any money will help, the damage in the Lower Orange River was about R1 billion.
“What do you service with this money and what don’t you?” he asked. Gordhan also asked parliament to vote for an allocation of R26,6 million to combat the outbreak of foot-and-mouth-disease (FMD) in KZN. He asked parliament to approve R7 million to halt the outbreak of avian influenza in Western Cape.
Mike Mlengana, president of the African Farmers’ Association of SA, welcomed the allocation for FMD. “Every time an outbreak hits agriculture, it affects emerging farmers more than it does commercial farmers,” he said.
Gordhan also highlighted the issue of increasing food prices. “Agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s efforts to improve our agricultural trade position and support emerging farmers are critical not just for food security, but also because of the employment potential associated with farming activities. The expanding role of Land Bank will assist in growing our agriculture sector while contributing to job creation.” – Jaco Visser