Friday | 27 March | 2020
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
On Tuesday 24 March Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, provided more clarity on how government will mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the agriculture sector, and also provided clarity on the measures instituted to regulate this sector during the national lockdown.
The agriculture and food supply sector is one of the country’s most important systems and is essential to the lives of millions of citizens. For this reason, this sector will remain operational during this period.
The services that remain operational include:
The provision of veterinary services, livestock auctions while trading of other agricultural commodities will also continue. However, the strict measures, as prescribed by the president, will apply.
Exports and imports of critical agricultural commodities and the logistics associated with it will carry on during the lockdown period to ensure national and global food security.
According to the minister, the provision of essential services is not limited to retailers only but applies to the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services to the support functions that ensure the effective functioning of the agriculture sector.
“I will regularly update crop estimates to inform the country of our critical commodity supplies and to ensure that it does not result in increased prices in the sector. Food price monitoring will be carried out in respect of food basket commodities and the findings will be reported to the country on a regular basis,” Didiza said.
The department set aside a package of R1,2 billion to address the effects of the virus and to ensure sustainable food production after the pandemic too. The department will soon release the details of this package, along with making application channels available. The department also made R100 million available to the Land Bank to help farmers in need.
The minister called on the public to refrain from panic buying and gave the assurance that the country has sufficient food supplies. She was of the opinion that panic buying only causes disruptions in the food system.
The minister says the department is working with the industry on operational procedures that will ensure that the measures announced by the president will be applied and that the necessary preventative protective measures will be provided to workers, especially farm workers.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.