R1.2bn set aside to address effects of COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza says her department has set aside a package of R1.2 billion to address the effects of the Coronavirus and to ensure sustainable food production during and after the pandemic.

“I appeal to the public not to embark on panic buying, as the President has indicated; the country has sufficient food supplies. Panic buying will only cause disruptions and inconvenience in the food system. I urge you, fellow-citizens, to also be considerate and purchase that which is sufficient for your needs,” Minister Didiza said.

Speaking at an Economic Cluster media briefing in Pretoria earlier today, Minister Didiza said live auctions of livestock and sale of other agricultural commodities will continue during the lockdown period.

The update follows the President’s televised address to the nation on Monday night, where he announced a nationwide lockdown as part of efforts to curb the rapid spread of Coronavirus in the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement following a meeting held on Sunday with the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Minister Didiza also said exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities will continue during the lockdown period to ensure global and national food security.

The Minister explained that this is not only limited to retailers but the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations, agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro-food system.

“We urge the food value chain role players to strictly comply and adhere to strict health regulations to contain and arrest COVID-19 as we strive to supply food to the nation,” the Minister said.

According to the Minister, the department has also availed R100 million to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.

Minister Didiza appealed to the wholesalers and retailers not to engage in price gouging.

“You have an important role to play in the supply of food, and the fight against COVID-19. We ask that you continue to serve the nation and help ensure food security at this critical juncture,” the Minister said.

Minister Didiza said agricultural production will remain uncompromised and this includes all services including provision of veterinary and advisory services. – SAnews.gov.za