Mashatile: farmers affected by bird flu will get support they need

Deputy President Paul Mashatile responds to questions in the National Council of Provinces. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Deputy President Paul Mashatile responds to questions in the National Council of Provinces. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Oct 27, 2023


Deputy President Paul Mashatile on Thursday said the government will support farmers that were affected by avian influenza outbreaks in some parts of the country.

Mashatile said there were measures that were being taken by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to support the farmers through a blended finance scheme.

“This scheme is about R3.5 billion.

Those farmers that are affected by avian influenza flu will get support from this programme,” he said.

Mashatile was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.

He told the MPs that Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza and the SA Poultry Association appeared before the portfolio committee to confirm that support measures were being taken to help the affected farmers, particularly small scale farmers.

“The details are being discussed with the National Treasury to ensure exactly what that support will constitute, but among other recommendations put before the portfolio committee is that all affected farmers, especially small scale farmers, will receive adequate compensation.

“I will leave it to the Minister to come back to us about what adequate means. It really means we are to ensure that we help to revamp and ramp up production once again,” he said.

The outbreak has led to the shortages of eggs and chicken ahead of the festive season and a surge in prices.

The government has stated that about 2.5 million chickens bred for meat have been culled while the SA Poultry Association indicated that another 5 million egg-laying chickens had been culled.

This week the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development allowed the importation of eggs and poultry meat.

Mashatile said the department was also assisting to ensure there was registration of the vaccine for the bird flu.

“That process is fast tracked to ensure that farmers receive vaccines and ensure that they can deal with this problem that is now affecting them from this influenza.”

Mashatile also told the MPs that the government was implementing a revitalization programme of the agricultural infrastructure because it was a critical intervention towards improving agricultural products and food security.

“As government we are not only investing in infrastructure needed for the agricultural sector to be competitive but we target support measures for farmers and beneficiaries of the land reform to ensure they become active players in the economy,” he said.

However, DA MP Willem Aucamp said Mashatile did not make examples of interventions to improve road infrastructure where farmers battle to and from the market, as well as the safety of the farmers and improving the rail network.

Mashatile said: “If you look as early as 2022-23, you will see that the department had lots of projects they were dealing with. Infrastructure projects include roads, among others, access roads for farmers.

“I am reliably told in 2022 they have 440 of such projects they are implementing.”

“There is a lot of work we need to do, but we have started.

“More of these projects will be implemented to ensure all farmers can have proper access roads,” he said.

“On the issue of security, the department is working with the police so that they improve policing in the rural and farm areas.”

Cape Times