#AloneTogether: Farmers manage to keep harvesting despite lockdown

Workers at AA Badenhorst Family Wines received colourful face masks to help protect them in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Congrats! You survived day 1 of South Africa’s unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown. The remaining 20 days will not be easy and, if you’re like the rest of us, you’re already hungry for the latest news and developments in the agricultural sector. Here’s what’s been happening while you were coming to terms with being quarantined at home.

‘Sewing army’ making face masks for vineyard workers

The colour face masks made on the farm of AA Badenhorst Family Wines.

Harvesting at AA Badenhorst Family Wines on Kalmoesfontein Farm in the Swartland turned into a colourful affair when face masks were made for all staff. Yes, unlike most of us, farmers and their workers are exempted from the 21-day coronavirus lockdown because they’re considered an essential service.

With face masks flying off shelves due to Covid-19 panic buying, Hanneke Kruger, the assistant winemaker, and Christine Bester, the “chief executive of chaos”, decided to take matters into their own hands on this Western Cape farm.

You see, Kruger is not only a talented winemaker, but also a budding seamstress. It just made sense that Kruger and their colleague Giveness would bring their sowing machines to the farm. Cornelia Coetzee tells Food For Mzansi everyone some fabric scraps, and soon there were enough colourful face masks to protect workers picking grapes.

Click here for more on plans to also sew face masks for surrounding farms.

Wine producers permitted to finish harvest

Harvesting and storage activities are now classified as essential services during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown period.

While many people were making a last-minute booze dash to stock up on liquor ahead of the lockdown, the wine industry was desperately pleading with government to also include harvesting and storage activities as essential services.

Government agreed, and the classification was published in the Government Gazette mere hours before the lockdown was enforced. The industry was faced with disastrous wastage of grapes left unharvested and juice spoiling in cellars.

Read more on the impact of the lockdown regulations on the wine industry.

SA Dairy Product of the Year awarded virtually

Lactalis SA’s Président Extra Mature Cheddar was crowned the South African Dairy Product of the Year at the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards on Thursday 26 March 2020.

It was supposed to be a black-tie affair, but with the lockdown organisers of the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards opted to go virtual.

After all, a whopping 975 dairy products from 74 manufacturers competed in more than 100 different classes. Everyone was eager to hear who walked away with the best dairy products.

For the first time in its 187th year history, the glitzy award ceremony of the SA Dairy Championships was announced live on the internet. And the winner was a full rounded cheese with a sweet, nutty profile…

Click here for more on the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards.

Commercial agriculture under spotlight in latest census

With the lockdown madness, most South Africans did not take note of the latest census of commercial agriculture that was announced earlier this week. It provides fascinating insight into the sector who feeds our nation.

According to the Census of Commercial Agriculture report by Statistics South Africa, there were 40 122 commercial farms in 2017. Of this, 33,9% was in livestock farming, 31,1% in mixed farming and 21,3% in field crops. About 20% of Mzansi’s farms were in the Free State, followed by the Western Cape at 17,3%, North West at 12,3% and Northern Cape at 12%.

Click here for detailed information about the census.