The VKB Group, a leading agricultural enterprise, has challenged farmers across South Africa to donate at least a hectare’s produce to counter a humanitarian crisis in the wake of the deadly covid-19 pandemic.
Koos van Rensburg, VKB’s managing director, announced that the 101-year-old agricultural giant has just partnered with Agbiz and organised agriculture to urgently assist people facing hunger. Members of the public can also donate to a newly established solidarity fund.
“South Africa, as an emerging economy, is far more vulnerable than the large economies of the world. This virus will have a far greater impact and detrimental effect on our lives if we look at the developing world,” says Van Rensburg.
His warning follows a warning last night by Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa that, “while the nationwide lockdown is having a devastating effect on our economy, it is nothing compared to the catastrophic human, social and economic cost if the coronavirus could spread among our people unchecked.”
Ramaphosa announced additional covid-19 economic and social relief measures saying: “The pandemic has resulted in the sudden loss of income for businesses and individuals alike, deepening poverty and increasing hunger.”
In the VKB Group initiative, farmers are encouraged to donate one hectare’s produce. In a video recording Van Rensburg says: “I realise that one hectare’s yield is a relative perception. So, for those of you who are unable to donate (equivalent to) a hectare’s yield or those of you who are able to donate more than a hectare’s yield, we request a voluntary donation. For those of you who do not produce grain crops, we would like to offer you the opportunity to make a monetary contribution or any other contribution you are able to make to this solidarity fund.”
VKB has also pledged additional support with Van Rensburg remarking that the company was perturbed by nationwide reports of hunger compounded by covid-19. He adds that poverty will be accompanied by unemployment, which will result in hungry people and hungry people can resort to desperate action.
According to Van Rensburg VKB’s covid-19 relief measures include:
- providing farmers with a delivery number with which they can distribute their produce;
- waiving related handling and storage fees on this account;
- converting donations of soya, white or yellow maize to white maize; and
- providing logistics for these products to be delivered at the mills.
VKB Milling, which is especially known for its Magnifisan maize meal, has furthermore pledged to grind the maize voluntarily, with Van Rensburg adding that they will “only take the chop as settlement for their most direct associated costs. They will package the maize meal into small packs. These packages will be distributed to various church denominations who will channel it to needy people across the country.”
“This is an opportunity for the entire agricultural sector to raise its hands, and to heed the call to help feed the poor. This is our opportunity to crawl into every South African’s heart and show that the agricultural producer is the solution to their most basic need, namely food,” says Van Rensburg.
The VKB boss describes this unprecedented moment – the biggest pandemic since 1918 – as an opportunity to also support Ramaphosa and the various role players who are working day-and-night to try and curb further covid-19 infections. “I am reminded of the saying that one cannot sleep peacefully whilst your neighbour lies awake because he is hungry. This is also something that we should keep in mind when we are approached to really meet the needs of desperate people.”
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to sweep across the globe, South Africa is bracing for grave consequences. Wits researchers have estimated that the loss in GDP for the country is roughly R13 billion a day, whilst poverty and food insecurity have deepened dramatically in the course of just a few weeks.
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Cash or smaller donations can be paid in at your nearest VKB branch by simply using the code: 99900000911. Donations can also be made via your monthly account payments.
- Grain donations can be delivered by using code: N3089565. To donate telephonically, you can call 058 863 8618.
- Donations via EFT are also welcomed. Please contact Corné Wessels at 082 883 0200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for account details.
- Donations can also be pledged via VKB’s covid-19 solidarity fund. Click here: https://bit.ly/2KlCqLR