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
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.