Free State farmers facing challenges following persistent heavy rains

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Farmers in parts of the Free State say they are facing a challenging period, with major losses of their wheat yield as a result of heavy rains.

Consistent rains since November have left the groundwater locked and washed away some of the crops.

Free State Agriculture says the northern, eastern and western parts of the province are affected.

KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Gauteng are also said to have been affected.

Maize, beans and sunflower planting has been delayed and the wheat harvest is impossible.

Free State Agriculture Manager, Jack Armour says some farmers may not get a return on investment.

“There’s a couple of farmers whose whole crop is dismantled and it’s too late now to get back in the land to plant again. So the crisis there is these farmers have spent a lot of money with input costs they are going to get nothing in investment in their input costs. But also they don’t have an income for the next season now. and they are going to struggle to get financing from the banks next season because their cash flow is looking very bad. And a lot of the stuff the farmers were not able to insure,” says Armour.

Farmers expect major losses of their wheat yield after experiencing heavy rains in the Free State

Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative

Some beneficiaries of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, Pesi, in Limpopo say the vouchers they get through the programme do not have much value.

The scheme by the Department of Agriculture gives vouchers to emerging farmers to buy material they need for farming from identified suppliers.  The programme is aimed at increasing employment in the agricultural sector.

The department says it will investigate complaints from farmers.

Emerging farmers in Thabine, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, are complaining about the initiative. One of the farmers says the suppliers that are listed as service providers for the Pesi do not have farming material required by farmers.  He says some suppliers also buy from other suppliers and increase the price to make a profit.

The farmer says sometimes farmers spend the vouchers on items they do not need as suppliers do not always have the required stock.

“Specific suppliers that we need to claim our products from, all the products that we need are not in the list of the suppliers that we have been given. So it ends up not serving a purpose because at the end of the day we don’t get the products that we need but then we have the amount of money that we have. It means that you will just take anything that is in the shop and that is not going to serve you and the process of farming. We kindly ask the Department of Agriculture to engage with us,” says one farmer.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces the money allocated to the Presidential Employment Stimulus : 

The farmers are also complaining about the transportation of the material from service providers located far from their farms. Another farmer says after buying her material using the voucher, she struggled to transport the material back to her farm.