THE MEC for the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Nomakhosazana Meth has announced that her Department has allocated an amount of R74-million for drought relief for farmers.
The MEC said the amount was a provisional allocation “based on the respective severity of drought across districts”.
The current intervention follows the announcement by the Premier that the entire province was declared a drought disaster area. In January 2019 the Department has made an allocation of R42-million for drought intervention. The funds were used for de-silting of dams, installation of weather stations and provision of animal feed to farmers.
“Within two weeks of the declaration of the province as a drought disaster area, we have already started to do something.
“The declaration has enabled us to reprioritise our budget and we have managed to get R74 million to mitigate drought through the supply of livestock feed that includes hay, Lucerne and maize.
“We have already issued forms, which our farmers can get from our local offices and we urge our people to work with our officials to ensure the forms are filled by November 15,” said Meth.
Meth added that to ensure quick response to the situation, they have decentralised the procurement of these goods to district offices.
“We will be using a very short mechanism of procurement and we are saying the procurement of these goods should not go beyond November 18.”
Meth said the department needed R643 million to mitigate the drought effects and that the department has since made a submission to the national government to intervene.
“We need our farmers to be proactive in dealing with this disaster and not fold arms hence we interacting with organised farmers’ unions to say ‘we should work together to find the best ways to attend to this.”
The MEC said the severe and extreme drought effects were predominantly in the Raymond Mhlaba local municipality, Dr Beyers Naude, Inxuba Yethemba and Blue Crane Municipalities.
“Our Province, particularly the Sarah Baartman, Amathole and Chris Hani districts has been affected heavily by drought. This effect had negative impacts on livestock and crop production. This is mainly caused by reduced fodder supply and water shortages. In the year 2019/20, there have been significant reported numbers of livestock death due to extreme and severe drought.
“The drought did not only affect commercial farmers but it also affected small-holder farmers for household food production including cropping. Delayed rains during the 2019/20 cropping season resulted in late soil preparations and planting. However, DRDAR has already procured cropping inputs and has contracted mechanization contractors for land preparation. As soon as it rains, cropping will take place.”