BREAKING: Schools roadshow postponed to reduce Covid-19 risk

Learners attending the Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow last year.

As concerns grow about the rapid spread of the new Coronavirus, the organisers of the Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow, that was due to begin in two weeks’ time, have decided to also postpone the much-anticipated event for which 20 000 learners had already registered.

“We simply cannot put any of the learners at risk who had already registered to attend in all nine provinces,” said Food For Mzansi co-founder, Ivor Price. “The Coronavirus pandemic is real. The health of our learners and exhibitors is a high priority to us at all times, but especially during the recent concerns about the spread of Covid-19.”

The announcement comes after Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday night announcing a range of measures to try and stem the Coronavirus epidemic. At the time of the president’s live television address there were 61 cases of the novel virus in the country, including some cases of local transmission. Government and health authorities are clear that dramatically more cases are likely to come to light in South Africa within the next few days.

Social distancing, by for instance limiting physical contact with others and avoiding crowded public spaces or large gatherings of people, is considered a very effective measure to slow the spread of the virus. This in turn can keep the number of cases to a level that is manageable by the health system.

Price said, “We are in close contact with all our partners and stakeholders, and will remain focused on delivering the national roadshow as soon as we can do so safely. The health of our learners and exhibitors is a high priority to us at all times, but especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The headline sponsors of the national roadshow are VKB, AgriSETA, Shoprite, Food & Trees For Africa and Standard Bank. Other exhibitors include different universities, colleges, agricultural enterprises and farmer organisations who are ready to introduce learners in grades 9 to 11 to the vast study and career opportunities in agriculture. The roadshow is also proudly supported by different provincial education departments.

Explaining the rationale behind the roadshow, Food For Mzansi co-founder Kobus Louwrens said, “Unfortunately, the minds of a large percentage of South Africa’s youth are not opened to the possibilities to create wealth through agriculture. A lot of what they see are the stereotypes that agriculture is laborious, and often only for certain people.”

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, this year 20 000 learners from all nine provinces were expected to attend the 18 different career days. The 2019 roadshow reached 10 000 learners in four provinces.

Louwrens said, “As a team, we often wondered what we could do to make agriculture cool enough for the youth to consider pursuing careers in the sector. We thought long and hard about what we could do to make them see that it is much more than farming, to open their eyes to the prospects. The annual roadshow has become our contribution to solving an industry-wide problem – to showcase the great diversity offered by an exciting sector.”

Wilgerivier learner Kylie de Klerk (middle) were among the 10 000 learners who attended the Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow last year.

Learners who will attend the high-energy roadshow later this year, as soon as the pandemic has stabilised, will get first-hand information on the A to Z of study and career possibilities in agriculture, including farming, economics, accountancy, journalism, agronomy, marketing, genetics, digital marketing, sales and so much more.

Price said, “Unfortunately, most of the schools we reach still have very little access to information. They’re often in rural areas, just too far away to easily access the information they need to make well-informed decisions about their future. So, we thought, why not bring the information directly to them? This year we’re going even bigger and bolder.”

The World Health Organisation has issued the following guidelines regarding Covid-19:

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people. Coronaviruses circulate among animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

Just like there are different types of related viruses that cause smallpox, chickenpox, and monkeypox, different coronaviruses cause different diseases in people. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus causes SARS and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus causes MERS. The novel coronavirus, called Covid-19, is one of seven types of known human coronaviruses.

What are the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 infection?

Patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Alert your healthcare provider immediately if you think you may be infected with Covid-19, including if you have been exposed to someone with the virus and have signs/symptoms of infection. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should tell your healthcare provider about any recent travel to areas where Covid-19 is spreading.

If you believe you have been exposed on the job, alert your supervisor or occupational health clinic immediately.

How is Covid-19 treated?

No vaccine or specific treatment for Covid-19 infection is available. Hospitals can provide supportive care for infected people.

Government has also called on South Africans to help protect their loved ones by sharing the official South African government Covid-19 WhatsApp service with your family, friends and community. Send the word ‘HI’ to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp or share this link: