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Drought survey: Severe crisis conditions in rural areas

DTKAM7 Salton City, CA, USA  . 18th Feb, 2014. Dead cottonwood trees in the early morning light near Red Hill Marina on the south shore of the Salton Sea. Credit:  Scott London/Alamy Live News

Food security is a hard-won privilege and can easily be lost due to the persistent drought. Agri SA will rally all stakeholders to support farmers and farm workers in drought afflicted areas. Rising food prices, malnutrition and food-inequality will be our future if nothing is done. Commodity organisations are very concerned about the impact on commodity prices and how that will translate to farmers and consumers.

Agri SA conducted a survey in December 2018 among its members to accurately assess the impact of the drought on farming and job creation.

“The economic impact is severe, but we need to think of the human cost as well – people are losing their jobs and farms are closing down at a time when we need to strengthen food security and create more employment,” said Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA Deputy Executive Director at a media briefing. “More than half of the farmers are suffering from depression and anxiety, among others, due to the challenging reality caused by the drought.”

The salient points from the survey are:
• 31 000 jobs lost and R7 billion lost since January 2018
• 70% of respondents struggle financially
• Over 50% reported the need to retrench farm workers
• A devastating impact on crops due to continuing drought
• An increased risk of veld fires due to the arid conditions of pastures

“Food and water scarcity pose a severe risk to socio-political stability in the country. A collective effort is required to prevent a national disaster.

“In the next two weeks emergency meetings will be held on how to best assist farmers and farm workers in drought-stricken areas. Agri SA is already in discussions with various role players, including government, financial institutions and agribusinesses. Agri SA will also continue to support farmers on the ground,” Van der Rheede said.

“The drought is a colossal crisis. South Africans, who are enjoying the affordable food and drink that is produced by our farmers, need to wake up and realise that food security and affordable food are at risk,” said Omri van Zyl, Agri SA Executive Director. “Since the end of 2015 Agri SA’s Drought Disaster Fund has spent more than R18 million to help our farmers, farm workers and communities. We again call on the public to help.”

Agri SA is thankful for the support from the public and other organisations that seek to help farmers. However, the public must ensure that when making a donation, that the organisation is credible and that the funds can be traced.

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