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KZN dairy farmers dig in to assist hunger battle

Donations help emerging farmers and struggling communities

Picture: Supplied.

KZN’s dairy farmers recently donated R500 000 to assist distressed rural communities. The funds were distributed to local NPOs that used the money to buy fresh produce from local emerging farmers, for distribution to various feeding schemes.

While the need is immense and the task seems overwhelming at times (in light of the lockdown and the associated socioeconomic fallout), the huge donation from the Clover Producers’ Trust and dairy products from Dairy Farmers of SA supported emerging farmers and will help ease the growing hunger crisis for some.

Bags of potatoes ready to be donated to needy families. Picture: Supplied

Having identified the loss of income and dwindling food supply in their communities, as well as the barriers to market entry emerging farmers are experiencing, a group of dairy farmers in KZN developed a form of assistance that supports both concerns coherently.

Dargle community relief efforts

“Farmers are close to their communities and have seen the difficulties emerging farmers face under current circumstances. It is heart-breaking to see our people struggling to survive and we are determined to assist,” said John Bredin, chairman of the Clover Producers’ Trust.

The funds distributed to trustees of the trust to dairy farming regions across the country, were re-directed to non-profit organisations in each of these regions. They, in turn, used the money to buy fresh produce from emerging farmers, for distribution to their various feeding schemes. In this way, both emerging farmers and local communities have benefited.

Food that will help feed struggling community members. Picture: Supplied

The Kokstad Community Care Centre, an NPO that has been feeding, counselling and assisting people in their local community with addiction and family-focussed programmes for four years, is one of the many beneficiaries. Since April, the donations received from farmers have enabled them to feed more than 2 000 families in the area.

“Our database keeps on growing. Many people have had no income for the past two months and don’t qualify for UIF, while others have lost their jobs altogether. Donations like this one and many others from farmers recently, enable us to feed these families,” said Andreia Clowes, chairperson of the Kokstad Community Care Centre.

Midlands food relief efforts

In Mooi River area, farmers under the Upper Midlands Agricultural Transformation Initiative (uMati) and Mooi River Farmers’ Association have been involved in donations, co-ordination work and assistance to community organisations and food relief programmes. We visited the Lighthouse Community Centre in Bruntville, Mooi River, to see how farmers’ donations are helping and the work done by an amazing group of Bruntville volunteers.

See the link for the article and pictures.

A donation from Gift of the Givers, including 500 blankets, was distributed this past week in Mooi River. Picture: Action in Isolation/Facebook

Action in Isolation is driving and assisting with food relief efforts at two projects in Lidgetton, among others. Read about the amazing people there who are stepping up to do their bit to feed the hungry, children in particular, in the community.

The Umngeni region (Howick) plus Dargle, Rietvlei and Nottingham Road area, through the Nottingham Road Land Owners’ Association, have also been prominent. Nottingham Road Landowners Relief Fund  shared the following on its Facebook page this week: “We could not do this without the generous support of our local farmers and communities. Thank you to each of you for trusting us with this task. May we continue for as long as possible. Your donations are critical and essential for funding this initiative.”

Picture from the Nottingham Road Landowners Relief Fund Facebook page.

South Coast cane farmers have also been doing their utmost to help people in their communities affected by hunger and financial distress, as have farmers in the Underberg area. Read the article here:

After an influx of stories of farmers donating produce and finances to help families in need throughout KZN, Kwanalu (KZN Agricultural Union) has applauded farmers for their generosity and outreach efforts.

Strength when united

“During these difficult times, our farmers recognise that agriculture is one of the few sectors that can largely operate as an essential service during lockdown. Having seen the devastating impact that the lockdown has had on wage earners, casual workers, informal traders and the job losses, they are trying to assist as much as possible.

“By working together with local municipalities, ward councillors, and NPOs, as well as listening to the needs of the communities, farmers are showcasing the strength our country has when united towards a common goal for the benefit of our people,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.

For further information on farming in KZN and Kwanalu visit the website www.kwanalu.co.za

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