If you’re reading this, you survived day 2 of Mzansi’s lockdown to contain the deadly outbreak of covid-19. Chances are, you’ve been having your hands full, trying to help your family through this period of isolation. You therefore might have missed out on the latest news and developments in the agricultural sector. Despite the lockdown, our farmers, agri-workers and the sector as a whole have been pushing quite hard to feed the nation.
Don’t compromise on farmworkers’ safety, urges Agbiz CEO
The agricultural and agribusiness sectors must hold each other accountable to comply with the law, said Dr John Purchase, the CEO of Agbiz. He urged the sector to heed the critical lockdown restrictions related to hygiene, sanitation and loading capacity.
According to Agbiz the majority of enterprises in the agricultural value chain qualify as “essential services” under the regulations published by the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Dr Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma.
“Farmworkers are the bedrock of the agricultural sector and these men and women are currently risking their safety and health to ensure the nation stays food secure during these trying times. Their safety cannot be compromised as there would be no food security without them,” said Purchase.
“By not complying, the sector runs the risk of more stringent and onerous measures being introduced.”
Give the alcohol industry a Bell’s!
You’ve probably seen the internet jokes about South Africans who were willing to trade their three-bedroom homes for some hand sanitiser. In the wake of the coronavirus it has become a scarce commodity, but the local liquor industry came to the rescue and donated 40 000 liters of pure alcohol for the production of sanitiser.
This incredible initiative came from the SA Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) and wine representative Vinpro. In a joint statement they explain that they wanted to do their bit to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the people of Mzansi, and also help to drive economic recovery into the future.
Furthermore, Distell has committed an additional 100 000 litres of alcohol to produce sanitisers as well as a variety of other hygienic and sanitising products.
Fresh fruit and vegetables still fully stocked despite lockdown
Access to fresh fruit and vegetables will remain unaffected during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, assured the RSA Group, Mzansi’s largest fresh produce sales organisation.
CEO Jaco Oosthuizen said, ““Fresh fruit and vegetables are an essential part of the food security network and South Africa is filled with world class producers, big and small, who produce fresh produce of the highest quality and pack and transport it, adhering to required international hygiene standards.”
To ensure this high level of adherence, RSA Group’s business unit heads are running ongoing briefing sessions on hygiene protocols at all of its fresh produce markets of operation. This ongoing programme will allow it to keep on servicing the crucial local retail sector effectively and safely, while also ensuring that its Freshworld export operation continues to do business for all of its producers and their customers.
Thankfully, South Africa’s fresh produce market system is robust and able to adjust to sudden changes in supply and demand. Markets remain the primary reference point for fresh produce prices, and the country’s markets are currently fully stocked. Stable prices are reflective of this.
Cotton farming also considered an ‘essential service’
Leading industry forum Cotton SA has backed Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to try and prevent the spread of covid-19. CEO Hennie Bruwer said based on research, 60% of all textile and apparel products contain cotton – including the much-needed medical and hygiene products need to the fight the coronavirus.
Bruwer said, “Cotton is unique in that it is both a food and a fibre crop. The cotton crop not only provides fibre for the textile industry, it also plays an important role in the food industry since its seeds are rich in oil and protein. However, it also forms the base of medical and hygiene products, including face masks, wet wipes, cotton wool, sanitary products, hospital gowns and linen.”
Most people do not know that cotton is an agricultural product – frequently described as the most versatile crop grown by humanity. Cotton farmers are therefore considered an essential service despite the nationwide lockdown.