Farming in South Africa is often quoted as being one of the least secure ventures to embark on. The risks associated with farming stems from multiple sources ranging from natural disasters, unfavourable production and market conditions, an undesirable political climate to becoming the victim of crime.

Although many of the risks in agriculture can be mitigated through products and measures such as insurance, diverse farming enterprises, and even spreading your farming activities over multiple geographical locations, it is not possible or practical to proactively manage all risks facing the modern day South African farmer.

The Agri Relief Foundation (ARF) is a newly established non-profit organisation aimed at supporting producers in times of need. The ARF seeks to assist producers, both financially and otherwise, in times of disaster. It is the ARF’s intention to build a strong relationship with South Africa’s agricultural community which will allow them to identify farmers in need.

Establishment and funding

The ARF is the brainchild of a collaboration between several parties with a vested interest in agriculture, and a vision to create an organisation aimed at supporting the agricultural community in times of unmitigable risk. Existing support structures are focussed on widespread district, provincial and national based relief for farming communities in times of distress. However, little to no structured support is currently available for individual producers or small groups of neighbouring farmers severely affected by natural or other disasters.

To obtain the necessary funds, the ARF will facilitate institutional, farming unit, individual, or other stakeholders to donate funds to the ARF based on sales of products, other performance-based methodologies, or donations.

Animal health company Zoetis is the first to take advantage of this and is pledging a monetary value for each unit of Terramycin (500ml), Cydectin (500ml) and Dectomax (500ml) that it sells. Companies can also assist by pledging physical products, including transport, fuel, feed, or legal/financial services that can be provided to farmers when the need arise.

Paris Ryf, Anton Niemann, Ralf Patzelt, Frik van der Westhuizen and David Humann at the first Zoetis cheque handover to Agri Relief Foundation.
Photographer: Deidré Louw, Plaas Media.

Nature of assistance

Agricultural production is not only about assuring a livelihood for the producer, farm workers and their families, but also to promote economic activity in rural areas and to enhance food security in the country. Any unforeseen disaster that becomes a reality on a farm and prohibits production, therefore not only influences the livelihood of the producer and farm workers, but also the economy of the surrounding towns, from where inputs to the farm are sourced and the processing of the farm’s output often takes place.

The ARF’s primary focus will be assisting individual farmers during a disaster. This includes acts of God (fire, localised floods, hail etc.), unpreventable pests and diseases, and politically or criminally motivated actions posing risks to the longevity of the farming enterprise (farm attacks and murders).

Assistance with widespread disasters such as drought fall outside the mandate of the ARF. Although the ARF acknowledges that drought is a major concern, it usually requires a government or provincial authority approach and several organisations are already actively involved in sourcing and providing assistance in this regard.

Operational procedures and directors

The fund’s directors were elected to ensure the ARF acts autonomously when deciding on relief. The directors are appointed to serve as independent individuals with no bias or personal motivations. The majority vote principle will prevail when deciding where and how assistance is needed and given.

Share in the vision

The ARF is registered as a non-profit organisation and is eager to create a foundation on which to address the effect of unforeseen disasters on South African producers. The foundation will start accepting applications for assistance as of 1 January 2022.