The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the agricultural sector across the country; more especially in drought-stricken areas like the Raymond Mhlaba municipality in the Eastern Cape. However, small-scale farmers in the province are breathing a sigh of relief following a cash boost from the COVID-19 relief fund.
Small-scale farming is the lifeblood of the rural economy. The farmers have been struggling during the lockdown due to their small margins and little savings.
In the Eastern Cape, a large number of small scale farmers are also women. The farmers that received a cash boost were saved from bankruptcy.
Livestock farmer Nofezile Papu says she bought medication and feed for her livestock with the money she received from the relief fund.
“With the money I got from the COVID-19 relief, I bought medication and feed for my livestock. This saved my livestock. If it was not for this assistance, I would have lost a bulk of my livestock.”
Another farmer Nobuntu Mbi says she got equipment.
“They assisted us a lot. They gave us equipment. The only thing we need now is a functional irrigation system. The one we have is too old.”
The cry from farmers has also been heard. Deputy Minister Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development Sdumo Dlamini says the department is trying to support farmers.
“We are trying our best to support farmers. We do that and we are going to try do it all over the country to support farmers in the best way we can.”
Farmers in the drought-stricken Raymond Mhlaba municipality also received agricultural equipment and food parcels to further ease the burden.
An estimated R80 million, from the R1.2 billion set aside to assist the agricultural sector, will flow to the Eastern Cape.
Below is a report on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural sector:
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