Efforts of one man result in huge drought relief campaign
A KwaZulu-Natal farmer’s personal efforts to help his fellow farmers in the Eastern Cape has exploded into a massive drought relief campaign that has seen funds come from as far as Canada.
In August Roy Caldecott, of the Mooi River region in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, was in the Eastern Cape buying goats from farmers near Jansenville when he realised how badly the drought had affected the region.
A few phone calls and WhatsApp messages later and donations started to pour in.
To date, 2 700 bales of feed, four truckloads of maize and 3 000 litres of diesel have been pledged to help alleviate the plight of the worst-affected farmers in the province.
Four transport companies have offered to haul the donations,
“Before I went to the Eastern Cape in August, the farmers there jokingly asked if I could not bring a few small bales of feed with me when I came to buy livestock,” Caldecott said.
“It was only when I visited that I realised the drought was no laughing matter. Back home, I felt so bad that I immediately sent a large bale their way, but the little I was doing seemed futile.
“I wanted to do more, so I started asking around, and the response has been incredible.” He sent out a call for assistance to his nearly 1 500 contacts.
Soon, farmers’ associations across KwaZulu-Natal reached out to him, telling him about their own efforts to assist less fortunate farmers, and a decision was made to combine their efforts.
Word spread, reaching the Gift of the Giver Foundation and even a South African expatriate in Canada, who pooled their resources with Caldecott’s efforts.
One farmer even earmarked 200ha of his grazing land to be cut and baled for transport to the Eastern Cape.
Grindrod Integrated Logistics, one of the four transport companies that have come on board with the relief effort, has dedicated some of its fleet to assist in getting the much-needed donations to their destinations.
Grindrod marketing manager Alison Briggs said six trucks had made the trek from the Midlands to the Karoo over the past couple of weeks.
“Two flatbed trucks transported 76 bales of hay from the Midlands and delivered them to Jansenville,” she said.
“A further four trucks were dispatched last week and will deliver more bales to farmers who cannot afford the transport costs.”
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern visited the neighbouring province last month to tell the farmers what the biggest needs were and to steer relief efforts to the worst-affected parts of the Eastern Cape, including the northeastern and western regions.
“This relief effort has been a typical example of how farmers pull together when others are in need,” he said.
“We have seen little assistance from the government, but the nature of farmers is to stand up for themselves and help each other.
“And for that I thank the KZN farming community as a whole.”
He said areas like Rietbron and surrounds in the west, and Barkly East in the high-lying north, had been hit the hardest – first by drought, then by fires, and then extreme cold.
“We appreciate all donations that go directly to farmers. But anyone who is unsure where to send donations can contact Agri EC,” he said.
“We can pool those resources with our own relief efforts as we know where assistance is most needed.”