Agri Western Cape has issued an urgent appeal to producers in the north of the country to donate maize to support desperate farmers in the most drought-stricken areas of the province.
While the national disaster status of the drought crisis has been repealed, severe conditions persist in parts of the province, with little rainfall experienced since February, says Agri WC CEO, Jannie Strydom.
The Little and Central Karoo and the Matzikama district have been the hardest hit, leaving farmers in distress.
The Matzikama district is clutching at straws despite recent rain, while the Little Karoo remains bone dry with the Stompdrift Dam at 7%, the Kammanassie Dam in Oudtshoorn at only 0.1% capacity and the Poortjieskloof Dam in Montagu at 0%.
All agricultural commodities in these areas of the province have been affected, says Strydom in a media release. “To date, we have been able to manage the drought in the Little Karoo relatively well within the framework of supply and demand of these products, but with the outbreak of covid-19, the situation has changed drastically.
“We now urgently need donations in the form of maize for animal feed. Grading is not a requirement and grade three maize will help. We also request financial contributions to the Agri Western Cape Drought Relief Fund to enable us to deliver donations of feed to our producers in the drought-stricken areas whose viability depend on it,” Strydom says.
He adds that many farming units are no longer economically profitable, and many producers no longer have the financial means to cope with the drought.
In the Little Karoo winter grain seedlings have been decimated by minimal rainfall even as the prices of ostrich products have halved overnight and continue to plummet. “This is due to international economic factors that have brought the demand for ostrich leather, meat and feathers to a standstill,” Strydom explains.
Agri WC first implemented the drought relief initiative in 2015. Without public assistance relief efforts would have been impossible, Strydom stresses.
“The goodwill towards the agricultural sector we have experienced over the past few years has strengthened our hand to provide both drought and humanitarian aid in the drought areas. We are very grateful for that,” he says.