Declare drought a national disaster: Agri SA
IOL Business - Jun 13th 2016, 12:24
Johannesburg - Agri SA on Friday welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, to declare most of South Africa’s provinces as drought disaster areas.
On Friday, Van Rooyen declared all but Gauteng as drought disaster areas because of the threat to the country’s food security.
Van Rooyen said government and organised agriculture had a role to fulfil and needed to optimise sustainable food production as well as to protect producers’ production base.
In a statement, Agri SA said this announcement together with the motion adopted by Parliament to declare the drought as a national disaster laid the basis for comprehensive financial and humanitarian aid by government.
Agri SA spokesperson Thea Liebenberg said this was now of critical importance to ensure food security for every household.
“In this regard government and organised agriculture have an instrumental role to fulfil to optimise sustainable food production and retention of jobs in the agricultural sector of these provinces as well as to protect producers’ production base and thereby retaining South Africa’s food security status,” AgriSA said.
For the first time in seven years, South Africa became a net importer of maize, importing about 770 000 tons, compared to 83 073 tons the previous season, at an estimated cost of R2.2 billion due to drought.
Liebenberg said the next planting season was around the corner and government assistance was now urgently required to enable farmers to plant on a large scale.
“A major concern is the Western Cape, where the expected rainfall in the Swartland and West Coast region did not materialised as yet. A shortage of fodder during the winter in summer rainfall areas pose an additional challenge which can be mitigated with the government assistance,” Liebenberg said.
Liebenberg said farmers should not lose hope because weather experts had forecast a notable weakening of the El Nino weather phenomena.From IOL Business
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