Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, recently paid an oversight visit to the Central Karoo where he handed over drought vouchers to two farmers, one in Leeu Gamka and the other in Laingsburg.

Minister Meyer also visited the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s (WCDoA) Veterinary Services Office in Beaufort West where he was able to interact with local smallholder livestock farmers who benefit from free clinical services offered.

Despite the lapse of the Disaster Drought Declaration in June 2020, farmers in the Karoo, Klein Karoo and northern parts of Matzikama are experiencing the 7th consecutive year of the drought.

According to Minister Meyer, the recent WCDoA bi-annual disaster assessment conducted in September and October 2020 showed that the Karoo and the northern parts of Matzikama can still be classified as extremely critical areas. Some recovery in the Klein Karoo moves it from an extremely critical to critical area.

Minister Meyer said: “We have to protect the veld, lives and livelihoods. It is for this reason that further drought fodder relief to the value of R4 million is being provided to 518 farmers in the Central Karoo.”

One such farmer, Jan Du Toit, who farms outside Laingsburg, expressed his gratitude for the support.

Du Toit added: “Despite us going through one of the worst droughts in 100 years, farmers in the Western Cape are fortunate that they are supported by the Western Cape Government. We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from WCDoA officials. The drought has not only affected the farmers themselves, but also the entire farming community which includes agri-workers and their families.”

During the visit to the Beaufort West Veterinary Services Office, Minister Meyer was able to gain insight into the type of free clinical services being provided to local smallholder livestock farmers.

Meyer said: “Teaching local smallholder farmers to brand, tag and administer medicine to their livestock is an essential service being offered by veterinary staff. This not only empowers smallholder farmers to take better care of their animals but also helps to prevent and combat the outbreak of any potential disease. Healthy animals mean more productive animals and potentially more profit for the smallholder farmer.”

Smallholder farmer, David Mgqanti agrees.

Mgqanti said: “It is a good thing that the WCDoA is able to open its doors for us. Through the hands-on support of the local state vets, we are able to take better care of our animals. We are really grateful to the staff.”

“Farmer support and development is one of my priorities. The visit to the Central Karoo highlighted the nature of that support: fodder relief in drought-stricken areas and clinical veterinary services to smallholder farmers gives expression to the type of support the WCDoA provides on an ongoing basis to our farmers. Our work is about improving the wellbeing and dignity of both our farmers, agri-workers, and farm animals on the one hand and making sure that they are able to participate in the agricultural economy on the other.” concludes Meyer.

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