Busisiwe Mgangxela

Small holder farmers from five villages in Mqayise received prompt assistance from the state when locusts began destroying their crops. It was around the middle of December last year when rural small holder farmers in Mqayise noticed locusts destroying their crops. These crops included beans, kale, comfrey, prickly pear, and spinach. The locusts were all around the area, in the crops and the open fields where the livestock are grazing.

They reported the matter to the extension officer responsible for their ward, who took it up with the Research Centre for the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) at Stutterheim (Dohne).

Scientists from Dohne visited the area and took samples. They reported to the District Director of Amathole District and recommended which medicine/pesticide to use.

Last month in January, all the farmers were asked to come together to view and to demonstrate how to use equipment and medication/pesticide brought by the District Director to help the farmers with the locusts.

The District Director, the Manager in Raymond Mhlaba local municipality, extension officers and animal science officers converged on Mqayise to inspect what was happening and to demonstrate how to deal with the locusts.

The Veterinary Section and officers were also asked to be part in order to check if there was any interference with livestock. They urged farmers to have a sharp eye and report any untoward observation with their animals. The two scientists from Dohne were also part of the delegation.

The medication/pesticide worked but the problem was locusts that were outside the yards which could not be sprayed for fear of harm to livestock. For the time being, farmers are monitoring the situation, and able also to manually eradicate locusts in their crops; but it is difficult to eradicate them in the open fields where the livestock are grazing. There remains the problem of locusts coming into the crop yards.

The historic Groot Constantia Wine Estate in Cape Town went to Court on Tuesday February 14 to try and enforce an eviction order against a worker who has been living on the farm for slightly over 20 years.

Julia Bennet was nine year's old when she moved into the worker's quarters of the far

m with her father in 1996. However in 2015, two weeks after her father died, she was served with an eviction notice. By then, Bennet had given birth to a son and had been working as a cleaner at Groot Constantia for close onto five years.

The Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) is assisting Bennet with legal counsel to oppose the eviction order.

In terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA), a farmworker cannot be evicted from a farm if they have been working there for more than ten years.

“My father gave his life to this farm. He was working with pesticides all these years, and got sick because of it. And now they think nothing of me,” says Bennet.

The farm management is arguing that the tenant rights were given to Bennet's father and cannot be extended to his daughter.

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By Busisiwe Mgangxela

At midnight on January 22, a farmer at Matole basin in Middledrift was woken up by a loud noise from the chicken house. It turned out that four of his chickens were being stolen and the thieves ran. The farmer was sure the culprits would be injured as the chicken house is surrounded by razor wire.

While the farmer found a red cap left on the ground next to the chicken house gate. It was easily identified as neighbours knew who it belonged to. The cap led the farmer to the two alleged thieves. They were caught at the home of one of them which is not far from the farmer. This was a child-headed household, with a deceased father and the mother working away from home.  

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