KEETMANSHOOP – Chairperson of the Klein Karas Farmers Association Hansie Esthuyse said despite the negative effects of Covid-19 on the livelihood of farmers and their workers, they remain optimistic about the future.
“Employees are still receiving their monthly salaries and food rations on time whilst farmers are currently receiving excellent prices for their livestock due to a high demand for meat,” he explained. He went on to say that with the closure of school for grade one to 9, children of workers are now accommodated by farmers with their parents. In terms of compliance to Covid-19 measures, Esthuyse said since farms are having so much open spaces, there are no challenges with regard to the adherence to social distancing. “Workers are restricted to their areas of employment whilst farmers only go to town in case of emergencies such as supplementing food stuff or medical problems,” he added.
The chairperson noted the main challenge emanating from the newly announced stage 3 of the country’s state of emergency is that farmers cannot slaughter their animals and market it locally but expressed hope that it is just an interim arrangement. He also said most farmers still have good grazing after the recent rainy season, but that some are now forced to supplement grazing with animal fodder and other substances.
“Another problem we as farmers are facing is that our children studying in South Africa cannot return home due to travel restrictions in the neighbouring country,” said Esthuyse.
He then raised the concern that parents now have the financial burden of paying for living expenses of students stranded in South Africa as universities and hostels are closed.
“On the bright side, they will be able to complete the academic year as these students are doing online learning, complementing the academic gap that resulted from the suspension of face-to-face learning,” the chairperson said. Esthuyse further said farmers are still positive and optimistic to “pull the wagon through the drift” provided circumstances will change for the better in future.