In the wake of the covid-19 lockdown the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) has launched its #YesMrPresident campaign on Facebook, encouraging South Africans to support pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to try and curb further infections.
“Sappo believes that South Africa’s leaders are facing a daunting task to navigate the nation during the covid-19 pandemic. With our #YesMrPresident campaign we want to demonstrate our solidarity with the president and his colleagues,” says Johann Kotzé, CEO of Sappo.
Kotzé noted that farmers and their workers are continuing to produce food despite the lockdown.
“This comes with added risks as it requires people in the industry to travel and work shoulder to shoulder. The agricultural sector wants to show that it is doing the right things to keep people safe. We want to show the government that the agricultural sector is listening.”
The agri-sector has since taken to Facebook in their numbers to upload their selfies with the campaign’s hashtag.
Kotzé says although the campaign was initially aimed at farmers transporting workers, working their lands, people producing products in factories and processing food and people distributing products, those in other industries and even individuals have also participated.
Sugar giant repurposes medical infrastructure to combat covid-19
Illovo Sugar Africa reconfigured its medical infrastructure to deal directly with any potential covid-19 infections within its own business or its surrounding communities. Africa’s leading sugar producer says it has converted its existing medical infrastructure to zero-in on combating the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Ernest Peresu, Illovo’s group medical specialist, says, “Over the years Illovo has invested heavily in its medical infrastructure and staff in order to be able to respond to the medical needs of our people across all our markets, as well as those – as much as is feasible – of the communities that host our operations.
With the advent of covid-19 our hospitals and clinics have streamlined their activities in order to nimbly react to the outbreak of what has become an evolving challenge – whilst at the same time, still offering the same services that our doctors, sisters and nurses have delivered to our people up to now.”
The company has divided its medical services into two streams with a single-entry point for all people coming into their clinics and hospitals. People are pre-screened by way of a simple questionnaire in their own language and their body temperature is taken.
“Should we have reason to believe the person may be infected, or is presenting with indicated respiratory symptoms, he or she is immediately masked and directed to a designated and isolated consultation room. We ensure that all social distancing protocols are observed to keep our other patients, who are attending for regular medical treatment, protected,” says Peresu.
‘Commercial farmers tired of being overlooked’ – TLU SA
TLU SA is unhappy that the government “continually disregards” commercial farmers when offering financial aid. This after Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, announced her department allocated R1.2 billion to assist small-scale farmers who’ve been struck by the covid-19 pandemic.
Only specific commodity sectors will qualify to apply for funding. TLU SA president Louis Meintjes says, “It is deplorable that commercial farmers get the short end of the stick again despite the vital role they play in producing food, preventing food shortages and subsequent anarchy. How must we motivate the commercial farmer to continue with vital production despite the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, when the government never assists them in any manner?”
Meintjes says up to 70% of South Africans are urbanised and dependent on commercial farmers to produce food for the nation. According to the latest agricultural census, the subsistence farmers who will now benefit from the government assistance, supplies only 1,9% of the country’s food.
During her briefing Didiza told Food For Mzansi that commercial farmers will be covered by the R100 million facility available at the Land Bank for farmers in financial distress who already have loans with the bank. “I know that there are financial institutions who have actually made some arrangements to assist those farmers and other businesses that are in distress during this period.”
Tiger Brands drives agri-transformation through partnerships
Black small-scale farmers are being aggregated into collectives so that they are able to meet the capacity and quality requirements of Tiger Brands. The company says it will also provide them with input finance, agrarian and technical support and business development support to ensure commercial success.
In a media release Tiger Brands says as one of Africa’s biggest food manufacturers it is “extremely reliant” on agricultural produce for its inputs. However, it high tonnage delivery requirements have, in the past, made it very difficult for small-scale farmers to form part of their supply chain.
Through the Tiger Brands agriculture aggregator model the company is now enabling farmers to supply them with produce. In the Western Cape the For Farmers project combines the first ten black wheat and oat famers to ever be part of Tiger Brands’ supply chain. Farmer Thomas Skietekat says without assistance they would not have been able to plant their crops this year. In Taung, North West the Baphuduhucwana Production Incubator has grown its farmland from eight hectares to over 700 hectares.