KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture and Rural Development to roll out R114 million drought lifeline for farmers

The bulk of the funding is for subsistence and small holder farmers, with commercial farmers also benefitting.

R60 million for the procurement of inputs for livestock and water harvesting

R45 million for scooping of 75 dams and the rehabilitation of 62 boreholes in the whole of KZN

R9million for an aggressive de-worming of livestock

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD) is in the process of rolling out a R114 million drought lifeline for farmers. MEC Cyril Xaba said the lifeline was one of several steps taken by the Department to assist farmers facing the ravages of the current drought.

He added that KZN DARD had started a while back, searching within its own coffers for funds to roll out a lifeline for farmers. An initial amount of R24 million was identified.

The Department’s contribution received a boost last week when National Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzweni Zokwana agreed that part of the CASP and Ilima/Letsema conditional grants could be reprioritised for drought relief. KZNDARD was asked to submit an amended business plan by Friday, 13 November. This was done and DAFF identified an amount of R36 million to be added to the drought lifeline.

Minister Zokwana stipulated that the re-prioritised grant money was for assistance to subsistence and small holder farmers. It will go towards providing livestock feed, water reticulation support for food production and stock watering support. KZN DARD’s contribution will be directed at subsidising production inputs for all farmers, including those within the commercial sector.

The lifeline subsidy will be on a sliding scale and will be capped. Subsistence and small holder farmers will get a hundred percent assistance. There will be an 80% subsidy for medium sized farms and 20% for large commercial operations. The subsidy will be for feed, multi-vitamins and dips. It will also go towards water harvesting inputs such as jojo tanks, troughs and pipes.

Farmers will have to register to participate in the scheme and they will get the subsidy once they make purchase of any of the above items, through the recognised outlets that are on the drought database. There will be KZN DARD officials at the outlets to provide assistance and do the record-keeping to ensure that there is no abuse of the system. The scheme will run for three months. A communication strategy has been formulated to alert farmers to the scheme and to ensure they have all the information on how to make use of it to get relief.

The remaining R44 million from the lifeline will be used for the scooping of 75 dams and the rehabilitation of 62 boreholes in the province where water sources have dried out.

MEC Xaba said KZN DARD had also asked the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to drop some water into the farmer’s jojo tanks as they go around distributing water to communities. This was for food security gardens within communities.

Other steps taken to help drought-stricken farmers was a letter written by MEC Xaba to the Minister of Rural Development and land Reform, Minister Gugile Nkwinti, asking his department to consider making State land under its control, available for grazing. Minister Nkwinti agreed to the request and presently officials from both departments are working together to identify grazing land for use and the condition of the veld in the different districts.

MEC Xaba added that in his many engagements with communal farmers he has also been speaking to them about the need to off-loading their excessive cattle. “I do acknowledge that this is difficult under communal conditions. However, we have reached a situation where the breeding herd is dying and farmers may not have cattle left to start re-building when the rains starts again. Hence my appeal to Minister Nkwinti,” he said.

“The agricultural sector may not have been vocal about the current drought but KZN DARD has been working on the ground and within the different districts,” MEC Xaba added. He said he received calls from farmers every day and contrary to reports, he was in constant discussion with farmer organisations and commodity organisations regarding the drought.

“We are losing our livestock and crops are dying. We are not going to get our expected yields. We are also currently in the planting season and a day lost takes us closer to the end of the planting season. We are advising farmers that we are supporting to consider planting beans and soya instead of maize, which requires an even distribution of rain throughout the growing season. Another way of mitigating against the effect of the drought is to practise conservation farming and better crop management. Our extension officers are advising farmer on these methods. It is a matter of farming with nature and not against it, MEC Xaba said.

For more information please contact

Lelethu Manentsa (KZN DARD)

Cell: 071 492 5716

E-mail: lelethu01@gmail.com

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS

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