Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP
While farmers across the country continue to suffer under ANC-engineered rolling blackouts, the Minister of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza is yet to release a plan to assist the agriculture sector.
Last week Eskom announced that there was a positive engagement with the Minister and the sector, yet no plan has been tabled.
This is not good enough.
The cost incurred by continuous loadshedding can never be recovered. It can take farmers up to five years to fully recover from one season’s crop failure. Where mitigation plans are in place, they must be shared and executed immediately to avoid a disaster situation.
Farmers in the Northern Cape have recently experienced fires, whilst they have just survived the locust outbreak and almost 11 years of drought. Most emerging farmers who bought their farms through bank loans are selling their farms because the promised new dawn is proving to be very dark.
South African farmers’ support to the nation comes with a debt of over R130 billion because, unlike their EU and American competitors, South African farmers don’t receive any subsidy and secondly South Africa has only 12% arable land.
It is now of crucial importance – for the fate of the farming sector as well as food security – that the minister not only releases her plan, but also implements it as soon as possible.
The DA’s proposed plan includes, amongst others, the following:
- Ringfence and declare Eskom a national disaster
- Declare agriculture an essential service
- Protect current harvest season during loadshedding
- Implement alternative loadhsedding schedules according to commodities and regions, and
- Finance schemes for disaster and support for alternative energy sources.
- Additionally, Eskom Ruraflex costs must be adjusted to reflect the lower usage of electricity by farmers. Currently farmers are being charged without the consideration of the impact of loadshedding.
Everything must be done to avert an agriculture disaster. It is now time for the Minister to take action.