A dramatic increase in suicide among framers – whose lives have become unbearable during the drought as a result of high debt, unsympathetic banks and other financial service providers, and exploiting lawyers – has the agricultural community worried.
Although the ANC has been threatening with expropriation without compensation for years now, it is the banks and credit providers that are calling in the debt of drought-stricken farmers on a daily basis and evicting them from their farms. The sharpest point of this practice is when hundreds of farmers – who have been farming on their farms for generations, and whose debt is a fraction of the value of the farm, but who could settle the debt after one or two good seasons – end up on the streets without jobs or refuge.
During disastrous droughts there are very few buyers at auctions, and after a lifetime’s work and development of a farm, these farms are sold at prices much lower than the farmer’s outstanding debt. Moreover, the farmer is still held responsible for the remainder of his debt even after his farm has been sold.
Many of these farmers would have been able to pull themselves from debt after one or two good seasons. Not everything legal is always morally justifiable. The drive for higher profits for shareholders in banks and agricultural businesses cannot be reconciled with the suffering that a country and its farmers are subject to during destructive natural disasters such as a drought.
Saai will gather as much information as possible on the extent and intensity of the problem to investigate possible collective actions and solutions in cooperation with affected farmers. Thereafter, Saai will liaise with banks and other creditors and, if necessary, apply pressure to government to change the regulative environment so that exploitation and greedy actions by megacorporations are eliminated.
The financial positions of farmers who are bowled out by the drought are dire, and their families are at breaking point. Help us to identify them and also where the pressure is coming from. Send email with the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.