Agri SA warns against panic buy­ing

Farm­ers have had a bumper sea­son and the sec­tor has suf­fi­cient food to de­liver to shops dur­ing the lock­down

Pretoria News - - NATION - SIYABONGA MKHANAZI [email protected]

THE agri­cul­tural sec­tor has warned against panic buy­ing, say­ing there would be enough food dur­ing the lock­down.

Agri SA pres­i­dent Pierre Ver­cueil said yes­ter­day peo­ple should stop panic buy­ing as the sec­tor has pro­duced suf­fi­cient food and they will be able to de­liver to shops.

He said they were fi­nal­is­ing de­tails of the trans­port lo­gis­tics for food sup­ply with the se­nior of­fi­cials of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Land Re­form and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment.

“There shouldn’t be panic buy­ing. The food value chain is an es­sen­tial ser­vice and there is enough food.”

The meet­ing with the depart­ment was to en­sure the en­tire value chain of food pro­duc­tion to sup­ply was not in­ter­rupted and im­pacted by the lock­down.

He added that farm­ers had a bumper har­vest sea­son and the pub­lic should rest as­sured of food sup­ply.

Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Land Re­form and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Thoko Didiza also warned against panic buy­ing.

She was backed by Health Min­is­ter Zweli Mkhize who said the lock­down should not lead to the short­age of food sup­ply.

Didiza said the farm­ers have in­di­cated there was suf­fi­cient food.

“As a na­tion we (are) self-suf­fi­cient in food pro­duc­tion and a part of this year’s sup­ply is yet to be har­vested, which prom­ises to be a bumper field crop and citrus har­vest, and th­ese pro­cesses will con­tinue as nor­mal as a foun­da­tion of South Africa’s food sys­tem.”

The gov­ern­ment will set aside R1.2 bil­lion to deal with the im­pact of the coro­n­avirus and en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of food pro­duc­tion af­ter the pan­demic.

The Transvaal Agri­cul­tural Union of SA (TAU SA) said they fully sup­port the lock­down de­ci­sion.

TAU SA pres­i­dent Louis Mein­t­jes said they now want to work out the finer de­tails with the gov­ern­ment about how they will trans­port food from the points of pro­duc­tion to the shops.

Mein­tjies said the sup­ply of food will be very crit­i­cal dur­ing this lock­down pe­riod.

“We are de­lighted that the pres­i­dent re­alises the crit­i­cal role of the com­mer­cial farmer in en­sur­ing food se­cu­rity and de­liv­ery.”

He said last week they agreed to sit on var­i­ous task teams of gov­ern­ment to en­sure food sup­ply dur­ing the Covid-19 cri­sis.

He said there was no ques­tion that agri­cul­ture needed to sup­ply food.

Min­is­ter of Em­ploy­ment and Labour Thu­las Nx­esi said he sup­ported Didiza in her call that food was crit­i­cal.

Nx­esi said food must be made avail­able to keep the coun­try and the econ­omy go­ing.

Didiza said food se­cu­rity and sup­ply must not be com­pro­mised.

She said the auc­tion of live­stock will con­tinue un­der strict con­di­tions, in­clud­ing not hav­ing more than 100 peo­ple for the auc­tion.

The sup­port of agri­cul­ture was im­por­tant to en­sure food se­cu­rity, said Didiza.

Mein­tjies said there were the is­sues they wanted to raise with the min­is­ter be­cause they wanted ex­emp­tion cer­tifi­cates.

This would be to en­sure the value chain of agri­cul­ture was able to op­er­ate and de­liver food to South Africans.

Didiza also an­nounced that there will be an­other R100 mil­lion from the Land Bank to assist farm­ers in dis­tress.

Th­ese were part of var­i­ous mea­sures gov­ern­ment an­nounced to mit­i­gate against the im­pact of the coro­n­avirus in var­i­ous sec­tors of the econ­omy.

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