Agri SA urges government to declare drought a national disaster

Agri SA urges government to declare drought a national disaster
SABC
Friday 18 March 2016 Mariska Botha
Agri Western Cape says aid has been donated but much more assistance is needed.
Agri South Africa has made an urgent call on government to declare the countrywide drought, a national disaster.

This as on-going drought relief efforts were taken to far flung rural areas of the Western Cape on Friday where small scale farmers are struggling to maintain their animal stocks.

With a donation by the Sage Foundation in partnership with Agri SA and Agri Western Cape farmers of Goedgedacht close to Piketberg were given much needed water and feed.

59 year old farmer Franklin Smith says the last time the drought was this severe at Goedverwacht was over a century ago.

He started tending cattle as a small boy and wants nothing more than to remain on the land.

As a small scale farmer he keeps 100 cattle and 130 sheep. He says he’s put everything he has into keeping his animals alive.

Smith says, “I have been trying my best, I have nothing more to give. I have even taken the calves away from their mothers and every little bit helps.”

Agri WesCape says for its farmers like Smith who are taking great strain, aid has been donated but much more assistance is needed.

Connie Swart from Agri Western Cape says, “Transport is a big problem, currently we are struggling with the transport costs. One trip from Caledon to Eendekuil costs R9 000.”

Meanwhile, Christo van der Rheede from Agri SA say, “The drought in SA has a massive impact on the region and we know that SADEC has declared an inter-regional disaster. Food prices will go up, it will affect everything. Government needs to support all farmers, black and white and we are asking that government takes it very seriously.”

Van der Rheede says food security is threatened and there’s a possibility of job losses.

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