Agri SA calls for investigation into non-payment of locust officers

Agri SA has repeatedly alerted the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to the problem of delayed payments to locust officers, the people directly responsible for pesticide spraying. Some of these have not been paid for up to six months. Moreover, the fuel allowance has not been adjusted since 2013 and, with the current record-high fuel price, locust officers now find themselves in dire financial straits.

In March 2022 the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has led a weekly JOC meeting to coordinate the efforts to contain and eradicate the locust outbreak that has affected more than 24 million hectares of agricultural land in South Africa.

Agri SA has used this forum to provide weekly reports compiled by its provincial affiliates on the status of the payment backlog. Despite weekly requests for the matter to be investigated, no action has been taken to address this critical threat to the sector’s ability to combat the outbreak.

As a result of the Department’s inaction, some of the locust officers have now sought legal counsel, and the threat of litigation looms unless the matter is addressed urgently. Agri SA is particularly concerned that the current situation will not only cause locust officers to withdraw their services, but will also undermine the department’s future ability to contract service providers to fulfil essential functions in future crises.

Source: agrisa.co.za


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