Western Cape Agriculture assists farmers in drought-stricken areas
11 May 2021
Farmers in drought stricken area receive fodder support
One thousand one hundred and fifteen farmers located in critical and extremely critical drought-stricken areas eligible for drought relief received fodder support in April 2021, to the value of R12.2 million.
According to the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, based on the latest bi-annual veld assessment completed in March 2021, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has categorised the veld as critical or extremely critical in parts of the Central Karoo, Garden Route and West Coast Districts.
Meyer: “The veld conditions in many parts of the Central Karoo have deteriorated. The veld in Little Karoo is currently in an arid condition, with critically dry areas. Conditions in the Matzikama Local Municipality have not changed much since the 2020 assessment. The area is still in extremely critical condition. The veld condition in the Mossel Bay and Hessequa Local Municipalities is currently in a dry condition having received below-average rainfall.”
Meyer highlights that it will need at least three years of above-average rainfall for the veld to recover from the devastating drought.
“In the interim, we encourage farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices. Further support is provided by offering workshops to assist farmers in introducing disaster risk reduction methodologies and practices on their farms. By doing so, we prepare farmers for future disaster episodes impacted by climate change,” concludes Meyer.
Towards gender equality in the SA agriculture sector
Standard Bank and United Nations (UN) Women are providing financial literacy training to thousands of women farmers in African markets including Malawi and South Africa.
In October 2019, in an Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa through Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) agreement, Standard Bank and UN Women launched a partnership aimed at empowering women through modern farming technologies that increase productivity and income potential while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
UN Women is executing the programme under its ‘HeForShe’ campaign as part of championing the advancement of gender equality. Standard Bank is a global champion of ‘HeForShe’. The CSA programme is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the pursuit of gender equality, decent work and economic growth.
Standard Bank has committed US$3 million over a three-year period to end-2021 for the project, which is targeting 50 000 women. “Through this three-year CSA initiative, we aim to contribute to the economic empowerment of women across Malawi through climate smart agriculture and practical business skills,” says Graham Chipande, Head of Relationship Banking at Standard Bank Malawi.
In addition to critical farming skills and tools, the beneficiaries receive training for key technical skills including financial literacy. This is an important component of the project in that it will help to ensure the long-term success of the farmers.
While Covid-19 and social distancing requirements have posed challenges, significant progress has been made since CSA’s launch. In the first half of 2020, 40 business clusters were formed in Malawi to provide basic business management skills. These skills include record keeping, gross margin analysis, price discovery, and the development of business plans, among other skills. The business groups have more than 4 000 smallholder farmer members between them – three-quarters of whom are women.
By the end of 2020, 5 000 women farmers in the country are expected to have received financial literacy training. The beneficiaries farm primarily groundnuts, which are processed into oil, flour, and peanut butter. “Through the project’s holistic and comprehensive approach to empowering women farmers, we are helping to improve their functional skills as well as financial skills so they can manage and grow their farming businesses,” Chipande said.
In South Africa, approximately 950 women farmers have received training in business management and digital and financial literacy in the first half of 2020. The UN Women’s office in the country has continued to work throughout the national lockdown. Standard Bank has remained fully operational as a designated essential services provider.
Besides business skills, the CSA programme is designed to increase productivity, facilitate access to higher value markets and supply chains, and yield high quality produce.
“By the end of the programme, we want to ensure that women farmers are well equipped to thrive in a changing climate,” said Keneilwe Nailana, senior manager Agri Business, Standard Bank South Africa. “They will also be better placed to move up the value chain and access new markets and finance, and ultimately to grow their businesses.”