Agricultural production in KwaZulu-Natal has declined by more than seven percent because of the continuing drought in parts of the province and the rest of the country. This is according to MEC for Agriculture and Rural development in the province, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.
Sithole-Moloi was speaking at a World Food Day event at Umzimkhulu south of Durban. She says the department has budgeted R160 million to assist farmers in drought-stricken areas as the decline will have a direct impact on food security.
“ It has declined by 7% or more because of draught and you know that if there is no water you can’t plant. If there’s no water you can’t even have your livestock healthy and be able to feed them. When there’s a decline it means that there’s going to be high unemployment and there’s going to be poverty. If that is the situation in agriculture we (have to) find a way in mitigating the situation by finding other ways of saying if there’s draught what can we do to maintain our growth in agriculture.”
On Thursday, Northern Cape farmers affected by the drought received feed for their livestock. Richie farmers were the first to receive the relief that will be rolled out to all five drought-stricken districts in the province.
Government released R30-million that will assist in the expansion of the fodder bank, transportation of the fodder and planting of maize. Namaqualand will receive the biggest chunk of the drought relief.
Ritchie farmer and beneficiary, Margaret Noge expressed that the temporary relief will help save her livestock.
Meanwhile, The Eastern Cape cabinet has resolved to declare the drought in the province a disaster and processes to gazette it, are underway.
The Sarah Baartman, Chris Hani, Amathole, Alfred Nzo districts, and the Nelson Mandela Bay metro have been declared disaster areas by their councils. The process of declaration and gazetting will result in national government’s availing of financial resources for drought mitigation programmes.