Drought-denialism has pushed agricultural sector into recession
Categories: HEADLINES, Agriculture/Food, Food security
The first quarter real GDP numbers from StatsSA reveals that South Africa’s agricultural sector is in a recession because of the worst drought in history. The sector experienced a negative growth of 6.5% last quarter, following a 6.7% drop in the last quarter in 2015.
Today, it was announced that there will be an Inter-Ministerial meeting on Thursday to discuss drought-relief. I will write to the National Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Bheki Cele, and urge him to release the R59 million requested by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.
Drought relief has yet to be allocated by the national disaster fund for the Western Cape this year. We are in the middle of a national disaster, and we cannot allow for national government to drag its feet. The Western Cape still waits for the Central Karoo District and West Coast District to be gazetted as disaster areas.
The Western Cape Government continues to support smallholder and emerging farmers through re-allocating previous CASP-funding, but there is still a shortfall of R27 million. The delay from National Government could have disastrous consequences on livestock.
In the Swartland, livestock farmers are struggling because of the lack of moisture and there is dire need for water for wheat production. Grain producers have incurred huge expenses to get their crops planted. Many producers have not been able to plant seeds because of last year’s bad harvest. To make matters worse, although we are now outside the normal irrigation season, abnormally high temperatures necessitate further irrigation to keep fruit trees and vineyards in the dormant state and prevent early budding.
The drought is now upsetting the agricultural sector, the current recession can lead to long lasting damage that we will take a long time to recuperate. The DA in the Western Cape will continue to fight for the 240 000 people working in the agricultural sector, who are currently at risk. Our agri-workers, farms and food security are on the line here, and we need urgent action from National Government.
Press Release by
Beverley Schäfer, MPP
DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture
Constituency Head Swellendam