The Western Cape Cabinet has approved the allocation of R50-million in emergency funding to assist farms adversely affected by the drought. Farmers in areas across the province, including the Central Karoo District, Matzikamma and Little Karoo areas, have been struggling for months without rains.
According to reports, David Maynier, Western Cape MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities, said the release of the funds was authorised on Tuesday. The request was first initiated by the province’s MEC for Agriculture, Ivan Meyer.
“This drought will be felt for years to come, especially in the rural areas where agriculture is the main generator of the Western Cape economy. The socio-economic impact on farmworkers and farming communities would be significant should the agricultural activity in the Western Cape collapse,” Maynier said in a statement. “The agricultural and agri-processing sectors are vital to the Western Cape economy, contributing 36.1% of exports from the province in 2018. Agriculture is also the fastest-growing export sector in the Western Cape with 26.9% growth last year.”
Maynier added that it is vital that the decision to allocate emergency funding be immediately implemented as the agricultural sector supports economic growth and job creation in the province.
“We have also approached the national department of agriculture for an additional R147-million for further drought support. While the R50-million will bring immediate relief and fodder support to farmers in the worst affected parts of the province, the Western Cape department of agriculture will also make a further R100,000 available to extend its current humanitarian support by providing pastoral and psychological support to farmers and farmworkers,” said Meyer. “We will also continue to engage and provide advice to farmers through our agricultural extension services. Six hundred and sixty agri workers in Kannaland, Matzikamma and other affected districts are also benefiting from our extended public works green opportunities programme.”
A technical assessment was made to assess the extent of the prevailing drought, and was carried out by the Department of Agriculture between February and March this year.
The results revealed that the northern parts of the West Coast District, parts of the Eden, Overberg and Cape Winelands and entire Central Karoo have been affected. They were classified as ‘extremely critical’.