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Level 1: Extend alcohol trading and open borders, urge agri leaders

Cross-border restrictions and short alcohol trading hours are the main hurdles keeping the agri sector from functioning optimally

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Agriculture leaders are hoping that pres, Cyril Ramaphosa’s scheduled address to the nation at 19:00 tonight will see alcohol trading hours extended and border closures eased under level one lockdown. 

 

It is widely expected that Ramaphosa will be moving the country to level one of the national coronavirus lockdown. The agricultural sector hopes that this might remove the final limitations that are hampering it from operating optimally. 

 

While major parts of the economy were decimated by covid-19 lockdown restrictions, most of the agricultural sector came off relatively lightly, since it was deemed an essential service sector from early on in the lockdown. However, border restrictions and the reduced alcohol trading hours are still preventing agriculture from functioning optimally as a unit, say leaders. 

 

Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO
Dr John Purchase, the CEO of Agbiz. Photo: Supplied

Dr. John Purchase, chief executive officer of  Agbizsays the biggest restrictions in the agriculture sector are around cross-border restrictions.  

 

For example, getting shearers from Lesotho to South Africa for wool shearing; we still have not been able to get them in to South Africa and approximately 70% of our wool shearers come from Lesotho.” He says that agriculture is functioning close to optimally, apart from these impacts in the border areas.

Alcohol trading hours

Purchase also hopes to have alcohol trading hours normalised. “We are still looking to get the trading hours expanded for offsite use, in other words not just Monday to Thursday but also right up to Saturday,” he says.  

 

Christo Van der Rheede, Deputy Executive Director of AgriSA.
Christo Van der Rheede, deputy executive director of AgriSA. Photo: Supplied

Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA’s deputy executive director, says agriculture was fortunate enough to operate optimally during the lockdown with the exception of the wine and tobacco industry. 

 

They had some serious challenges, but I think that under level one lockdown we will be able to operate optimally,” he says.  

 

However, he hopes that the alcohol trading hours will be extended and the ban on international travel will be lifted. One hopes that the alcohol sales will be available throughout the week and over the weekends and that exports can open up on a larger scale,” he says.  

 

He considers agri-tourism to be a priority now. If visitors are allowed to fly to South Africa it will be a great boost for this industry, he says.  

 

In other words, all tourists will be able to come to South Africa and enjoy our wine farms and restaurants. I think if there are more people coming to the wine farms it will stimulate the demand side of the agricultural sector, and that’s what we need now,” he says.  

Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom is an audience engagement journalist at Food for Mzansi. Before joining the team, she worked in financial and business news at Media24. She has an appetite for news reporting and has written articles for Business Insider, Fin24 and Parent 24. If you could describe Sinesipho in a sentence you would say that she is a small-town girl with big, big dreams.
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