KZN government rolls out R114m in drought aid
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZN DARD) is in the process of rolling out a R114 million drought lifeline for farmers. MEC Cyril Xaba said the lifeline was one of several steps being taken by the department to assist farmers facing the ravages of the current drought.He added that KZN DARD had a while back started searching within its own coffers for funds to roll out a lifeline for farmers. An initial amount of R24 million was identified.The department’s contribution received a boost last week when National Minister of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries‚ Senzweni Zokwana‚ agreed that part of the CASP and Ilima/Letsema conditional grants could be reprioritised for drought relief. KZNDARD was asked to submit an amended business plan by Friday‚ 13 November.This was done and DAFF identified an amount of R36 million to be added to the drought lifeline.Zokwana stipulated that the re-prioritised grant money was for assistance to subsistence and small holder farmers. It will go towards providing livestock feed‚ water reticulation support for food production and stock watering support. KZN DARD’s contribution will be directed at subsidising production inputs for all farmers‚ including those within the commercial sector.The lifeline subsidy will be on a sliding scale and will be capped. Subsistence and small holder farmers will get a hundred percent assistance. There will be an 80% subsidy for medium sized farms and 20% for large commercial operations. The subsidy will be for feed‚ multi-vitamins and dips. It will also go towards water harvesting inputs such as jojo tanks‚ troughs and pipes‚ the department said.The remaining R44 million from the lifeline will be used for the scooping of 75 dams and the rehabilitation of 62 boreholes in the province where water sources have dried out.Other steps taken to help drought-stricken farmers include State land being made available to farmers for grazing purposes.