4 things happening in SA agri today, 15 July 2020

FITA challenges government over ciggie ban, more agri-offices close due to covid-19, a new farmers' podcast episode is released and ten experts speak out on farm attacks

Not to be Missed

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It’s another day on the battlefield for the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA). They are striking back at government for banning the manufacture and sale of tobacco products. Food For Mzansi is following this developing story closely along with agricultural offices closing across the country, agri heavy-weights speaking out on farm attacks and another exciting episode on South Africa’s leading agricultural podcast.


FITA have their day in court

Hopes are running high in the FITA corner as their day to challenge the ban of cigarettes in court has finally arrived. Today, FITA, once again, goes head-to-head with government after the Pretoria High Court earlier ruled that tobacco products were indeed a health risk during the covid-19 pandemic.

Last week the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria informed the cigarette association that their application to appeal the ruling will be heard via Zoom today. The South African Drug Policy Initiative, an NGO advocating for humane, rational drug policies says there is no evidence to suggest stopping smoking for a short while will make one less vulnerable to covid-19.

Meanwhile, government’s ban on the manufacturing and selling of tobacco products has had a major impact on the industry with many tobacco producers accusing government of stripping them from their livelihoods. Food For Mzansi brings you more details later today.


More government offices closed due to covid-19

Over the past four weeks, more than ten agricultural government offices across Mzansi have had to temporarily close due to cases of coronavirus exposure. More offices have now been closed until further notice. The offices temporary closed are the:

  • Pietermaritzburg district office at 199 Pietermaritzburg Street;
  • KwaZulu-Natal PSSC at 188 Hoosen Haffejee Street;
  • larger centre office (former DAFF) in Pretoria;
  • office of the chief of the land claims commission in Pretoria;
  • Nkangala district office at Saveways Crescent shopping centre in Mpumalanga; and
  • restitution office at Bailey Street, Arcadia in Pretoria.

All the above-mentioned offices are currently undergoing procedural decontamination as per government’s covid-19 regulations.


The true face of farm attacks and murders

At exactly 11:00, Food For Mzansi brings you a must-read feature on the recent surge in farm attacks across the country. Journalist Noluthandi Ngcakani interviews no less than 10 experts on the politicising of farm attacks and murders, with both law expert prof. Elmien du Plessis and Free State Agriculture warning that these attacks are not racially motivated. The African Centre for Food Security says, instead, “increased hunger and poverty” contribute to the spike in rural crimes.


New farmers’ podcast drops today

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Keep your ears tuned for this week’s edition of the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, proudly brought to you by Food For Mzansi. A new episode is released around lunchtime on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. This week, #TeamFoodForMzansi journeys to Tarlton, just outside Johannesburg, to check in on agri-powerhouse Vuthlari Chauke. Chauke is a young vegetable farmer on a mission to change the face of agriculture in Mzansi.

Besides Chauke, also on the line-up is Jerry Aries, the acting chief director: farmer support and development in the Western Cape. He’s got the latest details on Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) funding applications.

Also, the farmer who made his first million at the age of 27, Musawenkosi Kubheka, also joins Farmer’s Inside Track to talk about how a recent Food For Mzansi article about him created further opportunities.

And this week Mzansi farmers have selected The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, by Noam Wasserman as their book of the week. You definitely also do not want to miss agricultural economist, Dr Johnny van der Merwe, for the latest price movements in the fresh produce markets.

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