After numerous complaints received from farmers regarding PESI, The Eastern Cape Farmers Poultry Association (ECFPA MANCO) took a decision to capture and register all the complaints and submit them to the provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) MEC Nonkqubela Peters and Dudu Nghona from the DALRRD PSSC.
ECFPA Chairperson Mhlobo Mbane said the delegation from ECFPA consisted of him as chairperson, Provincial Co-ordinator Mandilakhe Jali and Pumza Sifingo from the newly established Eastern Cape Piggery Association.
Mbane said that his organisation collected complaints from members and non-members.
The complaints that were being reported by the farmers were as follows:
- The abnormal increase of feed prices by up to 300%.
- The long distance that the farmers have to travel were more than 200 km away from the appointed service providers.
- The service providers that were redeeming the vouchers and don’t deliver on time. They take more than two weeks.
- The appointed service providers that do not have all the farming inputs that the farmers were looking for.
- The non-response from the services providers when farmers are contacting them.
Mbane said that the provincial MEC Nonkqubela Pieters made a promise to the association that her office will arrange for an urgent meeting with the DALRRD PSSC and also escalate this matter to the national department of DALRRD.
“This has happened after we have also put a pressure at national by writing all the complaints and submit to the relevant stakeholders. What is our concern is that the main beneficiaries of this relief fund are farmers, but the people that are benefiting are the middlemen and in this case the service providers,” said Mhlobo.
He said the Covid 19 relief grant went smoothly because there was no chain of middlemen.
“It only had the traditional retail stores and the prices were normal. These traditional retail stores are almost found in every town and this is not the case to the service providers appointed. We understand that the govt wants to give support to the SMMEs but this should not happen at our expense as farmers.
“The element of creation and retainment of the jobs should happen at the farm level according to the main objectives of the relief fund. What we have seen is the opposite and a huge number of the farmers have redeemed their vouchers already and we feel like they were robbed,” said the chairperson.
Mbane said they have agreed with the DALRRD on the following:
- The ECFPA should encourage the large number of traditional agricultural suppliers to apply for accreditation on this programme.
- The ECFPA will submit a proposal to the DALRRD EC PSSC on how we could collaborate in the near future on programmes that are similar to this one.
- The Request for Expression Interest has been advertised and the
- The DALRRD will always implement an open-door policy when it comes to the issue that affects our farmers and these matters should be tackled through further discussions between these departments.
The ECFPA association will continue to represent the interest of the farmers and engage the government on various programmes such as land distribution and others.