While mop-up operations have started following the floods in KwaZulu-Natal, farmers and the government are counting their losses on crops, livestock, property, and infrastructure. With more rains predicted, they fear it would destabilise the already ailing economy of the province.
The provincial government, through the department of agriculture and rural development MEC Super Zuma, said damage to agricultural land and infrastructure amounts to half a million rand.
Sthembile Ngubane, a vegetable farmer from the Magabeni township in KwaZulu-Natal, said although she is grateful for the rain, she felt it was enough.
“Since the start of the rains, my four JoJo tanks, which are 5 000 litres, are full just due to the December rains. I wish I had more to store water while the rain is still in our favour because we are getting 60-100% rainfall now and then,” she said.
Not the final figures
Zuma said the estimates (R500 000) are preliminary as more assessments and reports would still need to be presented to understand the impact of the floods in some parts of the province. He said while rain is welcomed, the damage it does would take the agricultural sector backwards.
He added that the districts that were heavily affected include Uthukela and Umgungundlovu where farmers suffered major crop and livestock losses, including deaths of farmworkers.
“The occurrence of heavy rains accompanied by storm and lightning early in January resulted in 26 casual farmworkers at Newsstand, Woodford, and Langkloof being struck by lightning.
“Most sustained minor to serious injuries and were treated at Emmaus Provincial Hospital. Unfortunately, a 19-year-old man and a 40-year-old female succumbed to their injuries. However, we can report that no farm dwellers were affected by the heavy rains,” he said.
Mostly crops damaged
Zuma said on 31 December severe storms and heavy winds caused considerable crop damage to farms in the vicinity of Bishopstowe.
“Because of inclement weather, the production of brinjal, chillies, lettuce, cabbage, green beans, baby marrow, spinach, tomatoes, jalapeno, and red and Chinese cabbages has been affected in the farms nearby.
“Due to fallen trees, the department received numerous reports of broken fences and light poles. There has been no report of damage to agricultural machinery,” he added.
Long-term solutions are needed
According to Zuma, the department is working closely with farmers in the province to verify infrastructural damage and will be providing the required assistance to maximise yields.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi said a long-term solution is crucial as the flooding of towns causes huge disruptions to the way of life.
The acting spokesperson for the department of water and sanitation, Andile Tshona, said there had not been much damage to any water infrastructure reported to the department from KwaZulu-Natal and across the country.
“There was no damage to the national water resources infrastructure including dams, in the provinces affected by floods. The department’s infrastructure was not damaged, therefore nothing will be fixed by the department of water and sanitation,” he said.
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