South Africa’s commercial farmers are accusing the government of being bias in drought aid distribution to farmers despite Pravin Gordhan’s pledge to give out drought aid to farmers.
This is according to the association of Commercial farmers who said the state government has been ignoring their plight focusing solely on “emerging” and subsistence farmers instead, despite the R500 million drought aid pledge by the finance minister Pravin Gordhan in his medium-term budget speech last week.
Speaking on this, AgriSA’s deputy executive director, Christo van der Rheede said South Africa has lost close to 15% of its livestock because of increased slaughtering necessitated by the drought.
“We have reports of farmers mass-culling. They have no choice. If they do not they will be wiped out financially,” Van der Rheede said adding that so far the culls had mainly been of “non-core” livestock.
“The problem [will come] when there are no non-core herds left to cull. Some farmers have herds of 3000 animals.
“When that happens, food prices will skyrocket. In February food inflation peaked at 7% because of the drought.
“December will be a horror story, especially with the price of meat rising.”
According to Timeslive, Van der Rheede said commercial farmers should get drought relief.
“Last month Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele made it clear to AgriSA and other stakeholders that government aid would only be for emerging farmers.
“What Cele does not realise is that commercial farmers feed the nation,” he said.
The AfriSA deputy further said SA government had initially made R300-million available to provincial agriculture departments to purchase fodder and drill boreholes, but none went to commercial farmers.
“We need state guarantees for farmers who have suffered huge losses due to the drought and are unable to get Land Bank loans to rebuild their herds,” he said.
Agriculture department has however denied being bias in fund distribution saying the department cares about the states food security not the color of the farmers skin.
“This is about food security. I do not care about the farmer’s colour or size. As long as he grows food for the country I will help,” said the department’s director-general Mike Mlengana.
“Subsistence farmers we help do not get free handouts. The money they get is to make them into future commercial farmers and on the fields to plough.”
The agriculture department director-general Mike Mlengana went further to say the department was aware of the plight of the commercial farmers and would work hard to get them the help they needed .