Wednesday, 6 February 2013

SA farmers helping ease Mozambique food crisis

Cattle being guided away from the Limpopo River, which burst its banks in southern Mozambique about two weeks ago leading to severe flooding. Most of the farmland in the region was devastated by the floods, sparking fears of a food crisis Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

South African farmers are coming to the aid of their Mozambican counterparts, whose lands were devastated in the flooding that killed more than 80 people and put the lives of thousands at risk.

Many farms in southern Mozambique are under water. Equipment, crops and seed have been destroyed and thousands of animals drowned.

The cost of the flooding has yet to be determined.

"It is millions and millions of dollars," said Gaza provincial agriculture director Ernesto Paulino.

"But this is not the worst. The exact toll will only be known when harvest time comes. Only then will we know how bad it is and how bad it's going to get."

Xai Xai and Chokwe, towns in Gaza, were at the heart of the flooding.

Paulino, who has organised farmers into groups to try to salvage the little equipment, seeds and crops they have, said the destruction of 90000ha of farmland around Xai Xai would affect the food security of more than 400000 people.

More than 76000 families were facing immediate food shortages.

"This is a serious problem ... We have lost everything - from maize fields to vegetable fields," he said.

Millions of rands worth of seed and maize have been pledged to the Mozambicans by farmers in the Free State and North West. The first truckload is expected to arrive in the country today.

The founder of South African humanitarian aid agency Gift of the Givers, Imtiaz Sooliman, said the first consignment of seed and maize, valued at R20-million, was on its way to Mozambique.

"Not only businesses have opened their hearts, but so too have our farmers. Since the call went out, our phones have not stopped ringing," he said.

Paulino said the help was a blessing.

"Every little bit that comes is greatly appreciated," he said.

- Times Live

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