South Africa’s AgriSA to seek $220 million in drought aid

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To help farmers hit by severe drought, Omri van Zyl, the Executive Director of AgriSA, South Africa’s agricultural industry body, said the group will approach banks, agribusiness and government to raise 3 billion rand ($220 million).

While still recovering from a disastrous El Nino-induced drought in 2015, farmers have faced dry conditions over most of the nation for the last year.

Van Zyl said “we have basically reached a point now where we don’t have any more fat in the system. There is no buffer any more in the agricultural sector”. He also revealed that the group will speak to the South African government’s National Disaster Management agency to get access to the contingency reserves.

He said “we see this drought again as a national emergency because it is going to have an impact directly on consumer prices, it is going to have an impact on food affordability and it has an impact on the farmers on the land”.

AgriSA revealed that a survey of producers showed that 31,000 jobs and 7 billion rand ($510 million) in potential revenue were lost since January last year because of drought.

At a briefing, Jannie de Villiers ,the head of producers body Grain SA told reporters that “the farmers didn’t get enough (income) to recuperate in 2016 so the grain sector is in a lot worse financial situation than it was. Our ability to absorb this current drought is under pressure”.

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