Locust Outbreak: Not one cent from Eastern Cape Government to assist farmers

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

As locust plagues of biblical proportions ravage the Eastern Cape, decimating everything in their path, the ANC-led Eastern Cape government has turned a deaf ear to the desperate pleas for assistance from farmers and organised agriculture.

Not one red cent has been made available by the provincial government to assist farmers in eradicating these swarms, leaving farmers already devastated by prolonged drought to face this disaster on their own.

Swarms of locusts, some reportedly 40km in diameter, are destroying grazing lands and cultivated crops in the western part of the province. Farmers are in a desperate race against time to destroy as many of the locusts as they can before they are able to reproduce.

If the millions of locusts manage to lay eggs before they are exterminated, the province is likely to see future locust outbreaks, which may be even worse than the current outbreak. The westward migration of the locust swarms places emerging and subsistence farmers, ill-equipped to deal with such a massive onslaught, directly in the path of future generations.

Attempts by the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to bring swarms under control have been hindered by massive shortages of pesticides.

But, while their national colleagues are at least trying to assist, the Eastern Cape provincial government has however been unwilling to make any financial contribution to fight the outbreak.

In comparison, the Western Cape Provincial Government has made available an amount of R5 million to assist DALRRD and organised agriculture in their fight against the ongoing plaque.

The Western Cape is seemingly making significant strides in fighting the outbreak and swarms are diminishing in all affected areas.

Earlier this week, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer said, “We remain concerned that swarms of locusts have migrated to the Eastern Cape. We are also aware that eggs are lying dormant and will hatch in ideal weather conditions”.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the provincial government to make available financial resources to fight this plague.

It is unacceptable that our agricultural industry is left to its own devices when having to fight natural disasters.

The DA also wishes to thank each and every farmer, farmworker, volunteer as well as organised agriculture for their hard work in fighting this outbreak.