Farmers in desperate need as locust plague sweeps across province

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

Farmers, still recovering from one of the worst droughts on record, are now battling to save their farms from one of the largest locust plagues in living memory.

The locust plagues are currently sweeping across three provinces, including the Eastern Cape, destroying everything in their path, wiping out crops and decimating veld meant for feeding livestock.

The Democratic Alliance has written to Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, to request that the provincial government intervene and assist these farmers who are close to breaking point, as they battle crisis after crisis with little to no support.

The worst affected farms are based in the Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani districts. The current situation is being exacerbated by a lack of poison used to bring these locust swarms under control.

The National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has been leading the charge against this outbreak, but it has become increasingly clear that the provincial government will have to become involved.

I have written to Premier Mabuyane and asked that the provincial government intervene, and that disaster relief funding be set aside to assist farmers who have been affected by the plagues.

I believe that not all farmers would need assistance, and we must make aid available only to those farmers who have no financial means to carry them through this latest crisis. The worst affected appear to be farmers in the Willowmore, Steytlerville and Klipplaat areas.

The government also needs to engage with organised agriculture, to determine if there are other ways that they can assist in dealing with this crisis.