Agri SA says drought stricken farmers will require at least R4 billion in aid from government over the next three years. Two years ago South African farmers produced nearly 14 million tons of maize. That’s almost three million tons more than the country needs.
In 2015, the number fell to 9.5 million tons. It's expected to fall even lower to between 6 and 7 million tons in 2016 due to the drought. Agri SA says without government assistance, South Africa's long term food security hangs in the balance.
Agri-SA’s Johannes Moller says, "The sector will probably need at least R4 billion of government aid over the next three years to ensure that we can move back to a situation of food security in South Africa and to make sure that the animal production herds are re-built to an acceptable level."
Agri-SA's estimates are calculated on the current levels of drought. Agri SA says should the situation deteriorate the amount needed could jump to about R6 billion a year or even R18 billion over three years.
Moller says he is, however, encouraged by their interaction with government. They are collectively seeking solutions to minimize the impact of the drought, also on farm worker communities.
Moller adds: "We have very good access to government. We have discussed this with the Finance Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and also with President Jacob Zuma and the feedback are that they are very concerned about the drought, the effect that it has on food security and on the economy as a whole."
Meanwhile, the National Assembly is set to hold a debate of Public importance on the drought on Thursday.