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FS farmers affected by veld fires assisted

Agriculture, land reform, and rural development Minister Thoko Didiza say 145 verified farmers affected by veld fires in the Free State and Nothern Cape were assisted with livestock feed.

Didiza said this yesterday in response to parliamentary questions posed by DA MP Phineas Masipa.

Masipa had asked about the total amount of financial support provided to each affected farmer and the cost of damage caused by fire during October.

He also wanted to know how the department was assisting the farmers who cannot access the input costs with loans from the Land Bank.

Didiza said a total of 82 tonnes from the provincial fodder banks, costing R3 000 per tonne, were provided to the farmers.

She indicated extension services gave all affected farmers notices to collect the fodder from the fodder bank at Vaalharts Research Station.

“Free State Department of Agriculture declared a state of fire disaster and requested R15 million from their equitable share to assist 117 farmers and still awaits the disbursement of that amount.”

The minister noted no direct financial support has been provided to the farmers as yet by both provinces.

Free State awaits the disbursement from the provincial department to support the affected farmers.

A total of 44 060 hectares, 110 for Free State and 43 950 for Northern Cape, were damaged by fires.

According to the preliminary reports submitted by both Northern Cape and Free State, there was no indication of any farmers who needed loans to rebuild their farms.

“The Disaster Management Act requires that the provinces must reprioritise their budgets to address the immediate needs of affected farmers and then approach the National Disaster Management Centre for additional funding,” explained Didiza.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi