Farmers in dire need of financial aid to help secure food for Gauteng residents

A massive food security crisis has hit Gauteng and the country at large due to the continuous loadshedding.

What the current government fails to understand is that the Eskom’s crisis is more than not just having the lights on, it is about putting food into the mouths of the citizens of Gauteng.

Our nonchalant government has been living in a world detached from that of the average South African. Our national government does not appear to have an idea of the realities facing the man on the street.

To feed a population of about 60 million people we need a constant agricultural supply but the production flow from farmers has been unfortunately crippled by loadshedding.

It is essential to have fresh foods for sale but without electricity the shelf life of fresh produce has been shortened, reducing supply with increased prices.

Now, poultry farmers are being destroyed as their chicks are being decimated, dying by the thousands.

Without electricity the conveyer belts cannot operate providing essential feed and water and without additional heat the newly hatched chicks just die.

Moreover, slaughtering of chickens has been radically reduced due to the lack of cold room facilities for storage, packaging and delivery for chicken meat.

As a result, food stored for large consumers such as the iconic KFC are facing crises as many stores have been forced to close due to the shortage of “chicken in bone.”

The DA is concerned that the results of this will be catastrophic as this will exacerbate our already high unemployment rate. With increasing numbers of unemployed people in our country, South Africa faces an imminent threat of civil unrest and violence.

The DA demands that the government comes up with urgent solutions to the Eskom crisis.

We insist that government and Eskom provide an adaptable loadshedding schedule for farmers so that they can get sufficient time to produce food for the market.

The DA will be writing to the Gauteng MEC for Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development to request that farmers be allocated an emergency fund to assist with this loadshedding crisis.

This is now the time to start making serious decisions on how to save our agricultural sector before the chickens fly the coop.

Premier neglects Gauteng’s small-scale farmers

by Ina Cilliers MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Development

Despite the fact that small-scale farmers play a pivotal role in the economy, the Gauteng government is failing to provide them with sufficient support.

These farmers are facing serious challenges around the lack of training and skills development in their relevant field as well as a lack of financial support and equipment.

The ongoing training of farmers, particularly women, is important as this assists with poverty alleviation and empowerment, which in turn will help improve food security in the province.

Premier David Makhura failed to outline how his department would be assisting struggling small-scale farmers in his State of the Province Address (SOPA), which he recently delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

While the Premier acknowledged that the current economic climate in the country is pushing up the price of food and is placing immense strain on households in Gauteng, he failed to outline exactly how provincial government intended to meet these challenges.

This situation is further exacerbated by the drought which is being experienced in some parts of the country.

During the second quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year, the department failed to train the intended 80 farmers in water-saving technologies, due to a delay in appointing a service provider.

With these ongoing delays, we call on the Premier and the Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Lebogang Maile to urgently outline exactly how provincial government will be advancing agro-processing in the province.

The research and technology development programme is of utmost importance if we are to train our farmers to adapt to a changing environment. Gauteng is ideally situated to be on the cutting edge of agro-processing because of our infrastructure and close proximity to ports that link our farmers with the rest of Africa and the rest of the world.

The DA believes that we need to increase the capacity of our farmers to access the latest developments in agriculture.

Come 2019, when we govern, we will ensure that all small-scale farmers are empowered with the tools and technology they need to help grow the economy and create more job opportunities for the people of Gauteng

DA Proposes Drought Relief Motion

Speech by: Ina Cilliers MPL

“Innovation the key to mitigate drought effect on Gauteng Agricultural sector”

  • In Gauteng we have the talent, the resources and the technology to implement effective strategies to farm and live in a semi-arid environment, in the midst of a drought that is never going to abate completely;
  • Every time you flush a toilet, 9 litres of quality water is lost. Municipalities could start exploring dry sanitation solutions, and rewarding communities for grey water recycling, the use of irrigation systems linked to weather stations and diversifying water resources instead of relying solely on rainwater.
  • Re-directing resources to fix and maintain reticulation infrastructure and implementing a rapid response approach to leaks has worked well in certain Western Cape municipalities where water losses stand at only 14%;
  • Drought relief must expand from drilling boreholes and providing fodder to providing farmers with permanent organic soil cover, drought resistant crop cultivars, no-till mechanisation, and precision farming applications. It is already much easier to download an extension officer from the app store than to see a live one from GDARD;
  • Government is still advocating agricultural methodology that is as old, outdated and downright bad for the farming economy.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by: Janho Engelbrecht MPL

“The poor will be hit hardest by Government’s inaction over drought”

  • Vast amounts of food are consumed in Gauteng, the most densely populated of all our provinces, therefore the people of this province are dependent on others for most of our food, and it is precisely this dependency that puts us at risk;
  • The drought is making it more expensive to operate, and that cost is being passed onto the consumer. This could have been avoided if government took urgent action and declared the drought a national disaster earlier this year, freeing up funding that would have resulted in better supply, and lower prices;
  • While we may not yet be experiencing food insecurity, we are already seeing increased community and household food insecurity amongst the poorest of the poor in Gauteng. Food price inflation increases hurt the poor when particular staple foods along with bread and cereals increase by 16%; fruit by 20% and vegetables by 15.4%;
  • We need real solutions to a crisis that has the potential to destabilize our province.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

 

 

Media Enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4344

 

Janho Engelbrecht MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4343

[Image source]

DA Debates 2016/17 Gauteng Department Of Agriculture And Rural Development Budget

Speech by: Ina Cilliers MPL

“Modernisation of agricultural budget sorely required”

  • The major concern is that in spite of the strategic imperative of “agriarian reform” and all the “radical” imperatives, the bulk of the budget does not speak to the needs of farmers.
  • Agriculture’s total contribution to the GDP in Gauteng is only 0.5% even though half of all the agro-processing in SA takes place in Gauteng. The department does not have to be happy with this- it suggests that the GDARD is still positioning itself as a social development driver, and not an economic development driver.
  • Your budget should not be spent on food parcels, vegetable gardens and handing out seed packets and garden hoses. Leave that to the department of social development. You should be supporting the individual entrepreneurship of existing farmers, helping them to succeed commercially by tapping in to modern trends.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by: Janho Engelbrecht MPL

“Government negligence laying waste to Gauteng’s environment”

  • Across the province developments are being approved in contravention of the National Environmental Management Act.
  • How is it possible that environmentally degrading developments can be approved after receiving the green light from GDARD in the form of EIA’s, when it is in direct contravention of National Legislation?
  • We are busy creating a situation where the legacy we leave our children would be a toxic wasteland all in the name of economic progress, something which, by the way, this administration is not very good at.

The full statement can be obtained here.

 

Media enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4344

 

Janho Engelbrecht MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs

060 556 4343

[Image source]

Gauteng Drought Relief Funding Not Enough To Stop Food Shortages

National Disaster

The R20 million drought relief set aside by Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy, in her 2016/17 budget will offer small relief to the agricultural sector in the province when at least a R140 million is required to mitigate the impact the drought has had.

This drought, the worst in 104 years, has had a tremendous impact on the 720 smallholders and 500 commercial farmers in the province that there has been an increase in the number of unemployed farm workers, increased food prices, food insecurity among the poorest of the poor and will see many farmers going out of business.

The DA calls on Gauteng Premier David Makhura and his cabinet to push to have an agricultural drought declared in Gauteng, in support of the declaration of a National Disaster.

Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Premier Makhura must also ensure that the drought relief includes support in the commercial sector such as farm worker wage subsidies, providing soft production loans for farmers in severe distress, rigorously introducing conservation agriculture principles in all Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development activities, and providing interest rate subsidies to commercial farmers in distress for the winter planting season.

If these steps are not followed immediately, Gauteng will not only face an agricultural drought, but also a socio-economic drought where physical water shortages will directly affect the health and daily prospects of the people of Gauteng.

 

Media enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4344

[Image source]