By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Agriculture:
The Democratic Alliance has written to Premier Mathabatha requesting him to initiate drought relief in the worst affected areas in the Limpopo province.
On 2 September 2015, the Director General of Water and Sanitation Gazetted that there are reasonable grounds that water shortages exist in certain parts of the Limpopo province due to insufficient rains and that water limitations have been implemented for irrigation from the Nzehelle , Nwanedzi, Luhphephe, Middle Letaba, Nsami, Modjadji and Tzaneen dams, with some of these restrictions as high as 55%.
On 3 September, DA Provincial Leader Jacques Smalle delivered a member statement in the Limpopo Legislature calling on Agriculture MEC Joy Matshoge to initiate drought relief in specifically the Nwanedi irrigation area where 1000 farmers had to cut back production with 50% due to the water shortages.
MEC Motshoge’s response was that the weather bureau has not declared the areas as drought stricken. It is clear that the MEC is not interested in our farmers’ wellbeing and her lackadaisical approach to the worst water shortages experienced in 23 years poses a threat to food security in the province.
The DA believes that emerging farmers are particularly vulnerable because they do not have sufficiently strong balance sheets to absorb the losses.
We also has it on good authority that commercial farmers have cut back on their output due the 65% water restrictions imposed for irrigation from the Middle Letaba dam.
In the Western Cape where the DA governs, effective drought relief is enabled through the establishment of multi-stakeholder mechanisms and the availability of agricultural and water risk management expertise at provincial and district level.
Food security impacts South Africa as a whole and we call on Premier Mathabatha to initiate drought disaster recovery measures to assits farmers in Limpopo to safeguard our GDP and minimise job losses in the industry.