Free State drought: DA calls for assistance to protect jobs

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The DA is concerned by the devastating effect that both the drought and veldt fires have on the agricultural sector and the provincial economy.

It has been estimated that more than 338 000 hectares of grazing has been destroyed during veldt fires thus far. The fires have been spurred by strong winds and severe drought.

The lack of grazing due to both fires and drought has had devastating economic consequences for especially livestock farmers in the province. The economic impact on the provincial economy due to these factors will still have to be determined.

While agriculture contributes 3,9% towards the provincial economy, it provides 19,2% of formal and 58,9% of informal employment opportunities in the province.

Any support that the provincial or national governments give the agricultural sector here will produce an above average number of jobs when compared to other economic sectors in the province. Both provincial and national governments have an obligation to support an important economic sector that is so crucial to employment stability and food security.

The DA will therefore be asking the MEC for Agriculture, Ms M.G. Qabathe, the following questions in the provincial legislature:

  1. In view of the serious damages experienced by farmers  in the Free State Province as a result of drought, whether the Department  has made any resources available to assist both  (a) emerging and (b) commercial farmers in this regard, if not, why not, if so, what are the relevant details respectively?
  2. In view of the serious damages experienced by farmers  in the Free State Province as a result of veldt fires, whether the Department  has made any resources available to assist both  (a) emerging and (b) commercial farmers in this regard, if not, why not, if so, what are the relevant details respectively?
  3. Whether the Free State government has applied for any national assistance for Free State farmers who have experienced damages due to (a) drought or (b) veldt fires in the province, if not, why not, if so, what are the relevant details?
  4. Whether the Department has carried out any risk assessments on veldt fires as required by the South African National Disaster Management Framework, if not, (a) why not, and (b) when will this take place, if so, what are the relevant details?

The DA will do everything it can to limit the impact the drought has on employment within the agricultural sector.