Yes, but where’s our money?

I’ve tried and tried and tried again to find something positive to blog about this week. I’ve watched the news like a hawk and read every newspaper I could lay my hands on, but, alas, the fact that our government made R100 million available for drought relief in Namibia stuck out like a sore thumb.

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I find it mind-boggling that such a massive amount has been budgeted for a neighbouring country while cattle farmers in the North West have, at the time of writing this blog, not received any state support yet. Lots of talk and meetings and promises, yes – but nothing concrete. 

Meanwhile, livestock is dying, particularly in the communal areas.

One must remember that this is the second dry season in a row. This means grain stover is also in short supply, which makes the livestock farmers’ predicament so much worse. Coupled with the seemingly uncontrolled dumping of hundreds of thousands of animals from Botswana and Namibia, these guys are in for a terribly rough time.

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Some R35 million has apparently been earmarked for animal feed in the North West. This equates to a maximum of seven bags of fodder for each of the 23 000 applicants in the province. Ja Boet, quite a far cry from R100 million!

Speaking of crying, the devastation caused by the drought in the western parts of SA is heartrending. Sadness permeates the land, dejected and desperate animals dot the veld and there’s an atmosphere of desolation in the air. How I wish some of those civil service pen-pushers and decision-makers could spend just one week under these circumstances.

The consequences of drought aren’t wiped out by one season of good rain. It takes years for the veld to recuperate and longer still for livestock farmers to recoup their financial losses.

Such a disaster filters through the entire rural economy of SA. It affects the very fibre of local communities and puts fear into the hearts of even the bravest of brave people.

So, dear Reader, please keep us in your prayers.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.