While South Africans are still reeling from shock after pres. Cyril Ramaphosa announced new lockdown restrictions last night, the agricultural sector is bracing themselves for a rather blue Monday. These are the top three movements on Food For Mzansi’s radar today:
Alcohol economy back in lockdown
The ban on liquor came into immediate effect late last night, and many South Africans are livid because they didn’t even have time to stock up on booze. Chances are, the alcohol sales ban will be with us for many months to come as the country battles ever-rising covid-19 infections.
The booze ban came as a shocker to many because for the past 42 days, alcohol trade and at-home consumption was permitted, albeit under strict conditions. That freedom has now been taken away by government for a second time on recommendation of the national coronavirus command council.
In a televised address, Ramaphosa reprimanded South Africans for being “careless and reckless”. This comes after a number of people had been reported for organising parties and going on “drinking sprees” despite the ongoing lockdown.
Ramaphosa says the command council along with cabinet have also agreed to strengthen the enforcement of other existing regulations as the country approaches the peak of covid-19 infections. Regulations on wearing masks will be strengthened and employers and public transport operators, as well as managers and owners of public buildings are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.
Also, a curfew commencing at 21:00 today has also been put in place, and it will last until 04:00 every morning going forward. Taxis undertaking long distance trips will not be allowed to exceed 70% occupancy, although taxis undertaking local trips will now be permitted to increase their capacity to 100%.
In his address, Ramaphosa also announced the extension of the national state of disaster to 15 August 2020.
Take two of pineapple beer surge
Pineapple sales are expected to soar again with alcohol being placed back in Ramaphosa’s “not allowed” list. Experts anticipate that pineapple sales will skyrocket this week as many South Africans will turn to making home-made beer instead.
Pineapples might not fly off the shelves from exactly today, though, believes Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council. He says taverns and bars still have carry-over stock, which they might sell illegally now given yesterday’s announcement. Also, supermarkets have not stocked up fully on pineapples yet. “But as from later this week you will start seeing stockpiling of pineapple and sorghum,” he says.
On day one of the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, reports from the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market indicated that around 10 000 pineapples were sold per day. Almost a week later sales skyrocketed to 60 000 per day. Towards the end of April volumes of up to 90 000 pineapples were recorded.
Stage 2 of load shedding is back
Eskom announced that stage 2 load shedding will commence until 22:00 today. In order to limit the impact of load shedding on the morning traffic, the power utility says it only starts implementing power cuts at 09:00.
According to an Eskom media statement load shedding is necessary in order to replenish the emergency generation reserves. “During the coming week, Eskom will continue to experience supply constraints. Due to the much colder weather, demand for electricity has also risen significantly,” the statement read.
Since May, agricultural organisations have been outraged with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) and Eskom. This after Nersa gave the power utility a thumbs-up to increase the cost of electricity by 6.5%.