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,” said Didiza during an economic cluster media briefing held in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Didiza said live auctions of livestock and sales of other agricultural commodities would continue during the lockdown period but would adhere to the limit regarding the number of people allowed to be present.
The update followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’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.
He made the announcement following a meeting held on Sunday with the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Didiza said exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities would continue during the lockdown period to ensure global and national food security.
She explained that this was not only limited to retailers but the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations to agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services and all support functions to 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,” she added.
According to Didiza, her department has availed R100 million to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.
She appealed to 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,” said the minister.
She concluded by promising that agricultural production would remain uncompromised and added that this included all services, including the provision of veterinary and advisory services.