Drought crisis: WC farmers slam national government

Agri Western Cape says the province receives very little assistance from national government.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Some Western Cape farmers have criticised government for what they're calling a "tardy response" to the drought crisis in the province.

Agri Western Cape says despite estimated losses of more than a billion rand, the agriculture sector receives very little assistance from national government.

The organisation's Carl Opperman has called for action.

"We've received nothing from national government; they've still got to acknowledge the problem in the Western Cape. They've acknowledged it in other provinces but not in the Western Cape so far. We are looking after ourselves with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture assisting us."

WATCH: Drought hits SA farmers hard

LAND BANK TO HELP FARMERS

Earlier this week, the Land Bank said investors should not give up on the Agriculture Sector as it sets aside R400 million to assist drought-stricken farmers.

The state-owned bank said farmers can now apply for concessional loans offered at three basis points below the prime rate.

Land Bank Chief Executive Officer, Tshokolo Nchocho, said the bank has a vested interest in helping the sector succeed, as should other investors.

"If contribution to the manufacturing basket is quite significant, in other words, primary produce that go into food processing and so on that contributes closer to 20 percent or so of the manufacturing activity. So it is a significant contributor to economic development."

It said farmers in provinces declared drought disaster areas, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and Free State, could apply for the loans immediately.

South Africa last year recorded its lowest rainfall levels since records began in 1904, scorching the key maize crop, which is forecast to be 27 percent lower this year and parching grazing land used for livestock.