Livestock auctions and crop harvests continue during Covid-19 lockdown

R1.2bn package from agriculture department to help industry

24 March 2020 - 13:47 By TimesLIVE
Agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoka Didiza said agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised during the 21-day lockdown.
Agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoka Didiza said agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised during the 21-day lockdown.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

The agriculture and food supply sector is an essential sector that will remain operational during the lockdown, said Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development.

The department has set aside a package of R1.2bn to address effects of the coronavirus and ensure sustainable food production post the pandemic, the minister announced.

Details of this package together with the application channels available will be provided soon, she said on Tuesday.

Didiza also said R100m had been made available to the Land Bank to help farmers in distress.

During the lockdown, “agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised”, she said.

This applies to the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations, agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, to wholesale and retail services and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro-food system, such as veterinary services.

Live auctions of livestock and the sale of other agricultural commodities will continue, but under strict conditions. Exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities will also continue.

SA boasts self-sufficiency in food production and a part of this year’s supply is yet to be harvested. It promises to be a bumper field crop and citrus harvest.

“These processes will continue as normal, as a foundation of SA’s food system,” said Didiza.

“To ensure we do not have inflated prices in the sector, food price monitoring will be conducted on critical food basket commodities and reports will be given to the nation regularly.” 

Didiza reiterated calls to the public not to panic buy.

“The country has sufficient food supplies. Panic buying will only cause disruptions and inconvenience in the food system. I urge you, fellow citizens, to be considerate and purchase that which is sufficient for your needs.

“To wholesalers and retailers, we urge you not to engage in price gouging at such a crucial time for the country. You have an important role to play in the supply of food and the fight against Covid-19. We ask that you continue to serve the nation and help ensure food security at this critical juncture.”


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