Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
The agriculture, land reform and rural development minister, Thoko Didiza, has assured South Africa that the agriculture and food supply sector will remain operational during the nationwide lockdown.
On Monday evening, president Ramaphosa announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to, in terms of the Disaster Management Act, enforce a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March.
According to the minister, the food supply system will remain functional and agricultural production will remain uncompromised including all services such as the provision of veterinary and advisory services.
“Live auctions of livestock and sale of other agricultural commodities will continue but under the strict conditions as prescribed by the President.”
The minister also stressed that exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities will continue during the lockdown to ensure global and national food security.
“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.”
Detail on a R1.2 billion package to address the effects of the coronavirus and ensure sustainable food production once the pandemic has been contained will soon be announced.
R100 million has been made available to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.
The minister also called on South Africans not to engage in panic buying and for wholesalers and retailers not to engage in price gouging.