Eastern Cape farmers still waiting for flood relief funds

Thomas McLachlan

Thomas McLachlan

Farmers in the Eastern Cape will have to wait for government-allocated flood relief money because the agricultural sector does not have a flood relief programme, industry body Agri Eastern Cape said yesterday.

"Unlike the drought-relief schemes, farmers do not have a flood-relief scheme, which is why the process has been delayed," Agri Eastern Cape president Kerneels Pietersen said.

According to the weather bureau, the region saw record rainfalls last year, with heavy downpours and gales battering the province, causing an estimated R40million damage to crops and infrastructure.

Pietersen said the government and the Agriculture Department had agreed to pay the farmers a total amount of R20,4million.

"In their survey, the disaster management team has to consider damage caused to infrastructure like dams, fences, piping and irrigation equipment. Only then will they know what percentage to allocate to what," he said.

The negotiations included separating insurable damages, such as cars, from the list, from non-insurables to avoid a situation where farmers could claim from insurance companies as well as from the relief fund.

Pietersen said he hoped that there would be some resolution on what the criteria would be by the end of this month.

"As organised agriculture, we don't handle the money, but we will try and speed up the process because farmers need these funds to get their farms back into production," he said.

Some farmers needed to reconstruct entire dams and many had lost valuable irrigation equipment in the floods.

Pietersen said once criteria had been laid down, these would form a national blueprint for the future.

"We need government assistance so if this happens again we can ensure the shortest amount of recovery time for farmers."