MEC to assist ‘hard hit’ farmers

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Free State MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development, William Bulwane.

Free State MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development, William Bulwane, reported during an address in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, that among other measures, a team of the Provincial Disaster and Risk Management Services has been deployed to assess the damage caused by recent floods.

The team, including extension services, will compile a detailed report on the extent of damages across the province.

According to the MEC, the local agricultural sector has been negatively affected by natural disasters in recent months, including not only floods, but veld fires as well. “Last year the raging veld fires caused massive damage on several farms, leaving farmers with huge losses. It was painful to see how farmers had lost almost everything they’ve worked for. Farmworkers were also left in distress, they too were affected,” said Bulwane.

“While the farmers were still picking up the pieces, yet another crisis has hit them. The rainfall that flooded farms started on 31 December 2020 up to 13 January 2021 and farmers recorded huge rainfall within a very short space of time,” he added.

Heavy rains and the flooding that followed caused serious damage to farm infrastructure, including silos, houses, workshops, storage facilities as well as on-field crops. Roads and bridges were also damaged, while fortunately, no livestock fatalities were reported.
MEC Bulwane also explained that as part of the interventions, an inter-departmental partnership has been formed to manage the crisis.

“We have engaged other provincial departments, such as Public Works, to address the collapse of low-lying bridges in the affected areas. Through our intervention the Department of Social Development has supported the affected eight households, including farmworkers and farm dwellers and about 21 beneficiaries from the two farms with food parcels, blankets and clothes.

The department is also prepared to deploy further interventions should the affected farm land become classified as disaster areas. “We are in the process of engaging the Provincial Treasury for immediate financial relief and the Department of Cooperative Governance to declare the area disaster-stricken should the need arise,” Bulwane concluded.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele
nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za