The National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organization (NERPO) has written to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to request for an extension of the deadline for submission of applications for relief or assistance under the COVID-19 Agricultural Disaster Support Fund from 22 April 2020 to 30 April 2020.
This is due to the logistical challenges that have been experienced by smallholder and communal farmers during the application process, which proves quite difficult if not cumbersome.
More importantly, the application process is taking place under the strict national lockdown regulations which they must comply with before they can start to make any movement.
Aggrey Mahanjana, the Group Managing director of NERPO, provided a brief lowdown of some of the few sticking points that inhibits the smooth process of application.
He said many of the affected farmers do not have access to computers or the internet for that matter and are therefore unable to submit applications online.
“Some of those who have access to the internet have difficulty, which is understandable, in submitting their applications online and require guidance and assistance to do this.
“Those farmers who decide to go to the Government offices to submit their applications have to travel long distances and there have been occasions when upon arriving at the offices have found them to be closed and have had to wait for the offices to open,” said Mahanjana>
He added: “It would be sad if some of the farmers are not able to take advantage of the assistance that’s intended to be provided under the Fund simply because of these logistical challenges. We fully appreciate that there needs to be some time frame for applications to be submitted but humbly request the Minister to consider the request for an extension. We are of the view that the extension will not prejudice the fund or anyone else for that matter. On the contrary, we believe that this will assist the Fund in achieving its objective.”