The Western Cape Department of Agriculture today briefed the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament on the assistance provided to farmers impacted by drought and fires.
It was revealed that the financial support required for disaster drought relief is now estimated to be R59 million, in order to ensure food security and a sustainable future for our farms. The Western Cape has still not received drought relief resources as promised by the National Government. As such there is currently a shortfall of R27 million that is needed to assist the farmers. The affected disaster areas are in the Central Karoo District and West Coast District.
The livelihoods of agri-workers and farmers are on the line. The long term sustainability of farms is at risk if government does not assist in alleviating the damage caused by the drought. 200 000 tons of wheat has already been lost due to the lack of rainfall. 230 ha of potato crop has been destroyed by heat waves. This is in addition to the R720 million that has been lost due to fruit being smaller in size and not up to the standard of international buyers, as well as R525 million that was lost in the wine industry.
The delay from the national government could have result in a situation where it will not any longer be possible to keep livestock alive. In the interim the Western Cape Government has redistributed funds internally for emergency funding, impacting on the long term projects to support farmers.
The Western Cape Government is also supporting black emerging farmers with household support, agri-worker support, grain input and pellets with more than R9 million. The drought has caused the first crop for emerging black farmers to be destroyed, and without this support they would not be able to plant seeds for the next harvest.
This drought has put our agri-workers, farms and food security at risk. The Western Cape agricultural sector provides jobs for 240 000 people. These losses in capital is placing job security at risk. The DA-led Western Cape Government is doing everything it can to offer emergency assistance to farmers but without the national government providing assistance a disaster is imminent.
Beverley Schäfer, MPP
DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture
083 598 3676