uMfolozi sugar cane farmers calculates millions lost over crippling drought

KwaZulu-Natal has been hit by a severe drought that has disrupted businesses and reduced yields on farms, especially in the sugar sector, and could lead to job losses.

The impact of the droughts in the agriculture sector has costed sugar cane farmers under the uMfolozi Local Municipality an estimated R10 million a year and the situation has been bad since 2013.

Sizwe Mdletshe, one of the sugar cane farmer in uMfolozi said that, “Most people are going to lose their jobs as we are not skilled in other jobs, we solely depend on farming in order to put food on the table”.

He said that KwaMthethwa Local Association has 592 farmers who plough a land of 2050 hectares.

The drought stricken sugarcane farmers met with the Department of Agriculture officials on Monday, 11 April 2016 at Khenani Hall, Ntoyeni to discuss the decline in harvest since 2014.

The country is currently experiencing a severe drought that has affected the livelihoods of farmers.

The Mayor, Cllr Mgenge stated that, “Agriculture is the backbone of the South African economy and without farmers there will not be life. We have to firstly ensure that the province is food secure and then know that agriculture is a business within which people of the province can live and sustain their lives from,” he said.

KZN MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Cyril Xaba said that his office was contacted by the people of KwaMthethwa to witness the damage that has been caused by the drought. “We have used R140 million to assist farmers who have been affected, however we need assistance from the national department as a whole.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Bheki Cele, says government will continue to help farmers to mitigate the effects of the drought that has hit the country.

Cele was speaking to farmers in Khenani Hall, in uMfolozi Local Municipality as part of government’s national Imbizos being held throughout the country.

During his visit to the Northern Cape, Cele met with farmers in the area to measure the impact of drought and other matters affecting them.

Cele emphasized that small and emerging farmers will continue to be the focal point of drought relief in the country as they were the hardest hit by the drought.

Farmers attending the Imbizo say they are still struggling with the effects of drought.