Agri SA held a press briefing on the severe drought that has hit South Africa. The organisation released its 2019/2020 drought report in Centurion on Tuesday, which illustrates the effects of the drought on the agricultural industry over the past five years
The panel included members from various sectors presenting agriculture, namely, Gerhard Schutte – Red Meat Producers, Jannie de Villiers – Grain SA, Wiehan Victor on the Horticulture industry, Adri Kitshoff-Botha – Wildlife Ranching and Dr Chris van Dijk – Milk Producers Organisation.
Jannie de Villiers from Grain SA, said they haven’t been able to plant because of the ‘late rain’.
De Villiers said though the late rain is cause for concern “we are yet not in a crisis”.
Agri SA’s Willem Symington said as the country “we are not addressing climatic disasters as well as we should. “My concern is that this can cause food insecurity. This also has the potential to collapse the rural economy.”
He said the country needs better preparation for drought disasters where there are better systems in place to mitigate the effects.
“We are lacking in dealing with disasters and managing disasters. This is an area that Cogta must deal with and should, therefore, call on all the stakeholders to work together. On the national level, I don’t think it would be necessary to call for a disaster declaration.”
Christo Van Rheede tabled the Committee Recommendations on how to deal with the situation.
Firstly, he said there should be an establishment of a National Drought Management Commission.
He said that such a commission should focus on providing the government with an effective and systematic means of assessing drought conditions.
It was also proposed that a disaster and drought fund be established and that the management of such a fund would have to be decided through an agreement among the sector stakeholders.
The organisation recommended the establishment of Public-private partnerships (PPPs) that should be geared towards, (for example), establishing forums to establish supportive financing terms, including subsidised interest rates and extensions to the capital repayment periods, etc.
The organisation also suggested a Multiperil Agricultural Insurance which could be used to support existing insurance options to which government can contribute in the form of insurance subsidies that could be used towards lowering the cost of insurance premiums as well as covering a portion of the excess not covered by insurers.
The further suggested an Early Warning System (EWS) in disaster risk reduction which is a system where people receive relevant and timely information in a systematic way prior to the disaster in order to make informed decisions and take action for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) elements.
Further recommendations are as follows:
- Emergency measures with regards to water and food relief
- Drought insurance
- Support towards the retention of farmworkers and labour wage bill
- Interest subsidy on production loans
- Interest subsidy on production debt
- Bridging finance for affected farmers to manage down in the repayment of agriculture debt
- Interest subsidy on loans for replanting
- Tax breaks for farmers in need
- Financial assistance to buy fodder
- Support to remove invasive species
Agri SA and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development have agreed to collaborate on an effort to mitigate drought risk. This includes sharing and promoting smart agricultural best practices, working together on strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change, working together to ensure the distribution of drought aid in an effective and efficient way and to establish an inter-sectoral task team representative of the agriculture value chain to assist with efforts to help farmers and farm-workers.
Agri SA further appealed to the public and corporate sector to donate funding, humanitarian aid, fodder, diesel, water, aid to schools and hostels via the Agri SA fund and structures
Sign a debit order of R 50 a month to assist our farmers, farmworkers and rural towns to overcome the devastating impact of the drought.
In the video below, Grain SA CEO, Jannie de Villiers speaks about the current challenges in the drought-affected regions in South Africa.