The Star Early Edition
Aid to come from Land Bank, IDC
THE GOVERNMENT is intensifying efforts to contain the drought situation in the country with more aid to come from the Land Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana told journalists last week that they had spoken to both the Land Bank and IDC to provide more aid packages to struggling farmers in droughtstricken areas. He said the government would have further discussions with the two stateowned entities this week.
Farmers have been the hardest hit during the drought period with revenues expected to plummet this year.
However, Zokwana would not say how much would be given to the farmers by the Land Bank and IDC in support measures.
The minister said the government noted the impact the sweltering heat would have on the already starving livestock in the country. The heatwave that gripped the country last week, including drought-stricken areas, was going to cause more damage to the economy.
The temperatures reached record highs last week at the time provinces were still struggling to cope with the drought.
Zokwana said discussions with the Land Bank and IDC focused on giving more support to the struggling farmers.
The government has already provided more than R500 million in relief measures in the last few months. KwaZulu-Natal was the worst hit province, but other provinces have also been severely affected by the drought in recent times.
Zokwana said the support packages from the Land Bank and IDC would ameliorate the situation. The drought situation has already been a subject of intense discussion in the government.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to announce more measures in his State of the Nation Address in February.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan could also provide further assistance.
In his visit to the Free State in November last year Zokwana told small-scale farmers that the area urgently needed R2 billion to deal with the crisis. This would assist the farmers to buy feed for the animals.
Any additional funding in relief measures would come from state entities.
Zokwana said the Land Bank and IDC’s helping hand could ease the pressure on the struggling farmers.
State entities provided assistance in tough times, he said. Both entities would meet with the minister in the course of the week for further discussions.
Zokwana said the meeting would provide the needed direction in trying to contain the situation.
He said the small-scale farmers would benefit from this programme of assistance.
Further details would come after their meeting with the two entities during the course of the week. – Siyabonga Mkhwanazi