It’s a go for agricultural events in South Africa! Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement this week that outdoor activities can now be hosted at 50% capacity, the organisers of Mzansi’s biggest expos are looking forward to presenting viable events for the first time in two years.
The industry has had it tough since March 2020, when strict Covid-19 regulations first barred it from hosting events at all, and then eased the restrictions very slowly to allow only 1 000 people at indoor gatherings and 2 000 in the outdoors up to now. On Tuesday night (22 March 2022) the president finally announced a change that was meaningful to the country’s largest agri shows.
The host of the biggest and oldest event on Mzansi’s agricultural calendar – Nampo Harvest Day – is excited about the return of the annual event. Its 54th edition will be hosted from 16 to 20 May this year at half of Nampo Park’s capacity. In an historical first, it will be hosted over five days to spread out visitor numbers and keep to other restrictions.
“Grain SA is delighted and thankful that the adjusted regulations will enable Nampo 2022 to be hosted and, furthermore, that we are capable to do it successfully at 50% of the park’s capacity under the adjusted regulations.
“The Nampo Harvest Day has always been an asset to agriculture and its people and it would be good to welcome everyone back to this showcase after the two-year disruption.
“Grain SA is committed to implementing appropriate and necessary measures and action plans in relation to the requirements of government to host this event,” he says.
Fully vaccinated or Covid-negative
Grain SA CEO Pieter Taljaard adds that participants will need to be fully vaccinated or able to show a valid negative Covid-19 test result before they can attend. A negative Covid-19 test will have to be no older than 72 hours.
“The health and safety of visitors, exhibitors, staff, sponsors and the entire agricultural community during the Nampo Harvest Day event remain paramount and the organisation will be further guided by current best practices to ensure all appropriate and required health and safety checks are in place,” Taljaard says.
Du Toit Wessels, assistant manager at Nampo, says that, while they will need to do things differently to adhere to regulations this year, the event will bring a much-needed financial injection to the economy and farmers who rely on it.
Agri-Expo operations manager Breyton Milford says that they, too, were excited about being relieved of the 2 000-visitor limitation.
“We welcome this. We have already implemented [the requirement of] proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours at our flagship event, the SA Cheese Festival, long before the president announced it.
“We made that call in December to set an example and hopefully open the events industry in a sustainable way in this time of a pandemic.”
Milford says that the ailing economy of the country, considering job losses and the closure of businesses, needs to be revived urgently. “We believe that the 50% capacity will enable small businesses to grow at events and that more agricultural events will now be held.”
Agri-Expo’s view is that the national state of disaster should be lifted. However, [it] needs to be done in a responsible manner to avoid going back to lockdown regulations which impacted on the livelihoods of many South Africans.
“It is critical to do it in a responsible way, to consult widely enough with all stakeholders and to make sure that we do not get back to where we were.”
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