South African Food Security
By Amy Grundling
Despite economic sectors reopening as lockdown regulations becomes less restrictive, many South Africans have been retrenched or do not receive any income. Food insecurity has, therefore, increased significantly over the past few months. In responses to the food security crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many non-profitable organisations have stepped in to provide food for many hungry South Africans.
One of the success stories is Chefs with Compassion, which is an initiative based on the collaboration between NOSH Food Rescue NPC (NOSH), the South African Chefs Association (SA Chefs), Slow Food International, the Slow Food Chefs Alliance SA, and Strategic Public Relations. More than 328,177 meals have already been served over five cities, with the help of local farmers, fresh fruit markets, retail stores and individual donations.
Tell no: +27 11 672 2037
The growing food security crisis have motivated may organisations to develop innovative ideas to help people in need. The Food-ATM was developed by CFAM Technologies to provide food in the form of an instant ready-to-eat porridge. The ready-to-eat porridge is processed from locally produced agricultural products and is fortified with additional vitamins and minerals to assist the dietary needs of the consumer. Other benefits include no additional cooking is needed, affordable relief foods can be supplied to large number of people daily, and the simplification of food distribution.
Local Support is Needed
We would like to encourage you to support your local community. There are many feeding schemes at churches and other community organisations that are in need of voluntary work, food donations and financial support.
South Africa's food security crisis is unlikely to improve, despite, the increase in economic activity. It is therefore important the each one of us support our fellow South Africans. The positive impact of Chefs with Compassion and CFAM Technologies are examples of how one organisation can have a positive ripple effect on an entire community.
Biological Control of Plant Pathogens
By Lize Reinecke
The photo is provided by Weebly .
With the continuously growing human population, food and fodder are on increasing demand. Plant pathogens like bacteria and fungi are major threats to food security, and over the history of mankind many different solutions to controlling them has been tested (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
Synthetic control of pathogens, like the use of chemicals has great impact on the environment, and the effect on human health. Synthetic control measures also have pathogens that develop resistance against it (Cui et el. 2019). Due to this negative impact, alternative control measures like biological control is sought after (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012). Biological control is the destruction or inhibition of pathogens by other pathogens (Agrios 2005). Some of the species available to use for biocontrol purposes are Bacillus, Metarhizium, Pseudomonas and Trichoderma. In some circumstances, biological control agents even result in a higher crop yield than when the pathogens are treated with any other method (Cui et al. 2019) and also makes for a more sustainable agricultural future (De Silva et al. 2019).
Biocontrol agents are not only a more sustainable option, but it has other advantages as well. Some of these include their faster decomposition and lower toxicity to non-target species. Because they have various mode of actions, they are also more efficient against pathogens that are prone to develop resistance against synthetic pesticides (Marin et el. 2019).
This species inhabits a large variety of environments which are ideal since it can be applied in different ecological niches to target a variety of plant pathogens (Fira et al 2018). This bacterial species is present in air, soil, water and the rhizosphere (Connor et al. 2010), and can produce antimicrobial compounds and secondary metabolites (Stein 2005). Some of these antimicrobial compounds are compounds such as lipopeptides which has an inhibitory effect on the growth of plant pathogens (Wu et al. 2019).
Bacillus velezensis are the most common bacteria used as a biocontrol agent (Cui et al. 2020). The production of three different lipopeptides by B. velezensis are the main mode of antimicrobial action. These three lipopeptides are especially active against plant pathogenic fungi (like Aspergillus spp. and Fusarium spp.) that produces mycotoxins harmful to animals and humans (Liu et al. 2019).
The bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis is also widely used as a biocontrol agent. This is because this specific species has crystal-producing strains which have insecticidal properties. This bacterial species can be used to control both air- and soilborne pathogens like fungi and other bacteria either by competition (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
Fungi are usually the culprits causing plant diseases, but it is not the case with Metarhizium spp. This is an entomopathogenic fungi which occurs in various habitats in different climates worldwide (Kryukov et al. 2019) and which is especially effective to use against grasshoppers. An entomopathogenic fungus colonizes and parasitize insects (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
Not only does this species of biocontrol fungi have a wide range of activity against various pathogens, but it also colonizes the rhizosphere, promotes plant growth and increase resistance to phytopathogens. The promotion of plant growth is due to the transfer of nitrogen from other dead insects to the plant, as well as rehabilitating nutrient deficient soil (Kryukov et al. 2019).
This fungus produces pathogenicity factors and chitinase which then breaks down the chitin walls within plant pathogenic insects (Francis 2019). It also has an enzyme which decomposes the proteins of nematodes acting as nematicides (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012). The number of spores needed to infect and kill 50% of an insect population within 10 days are only a 1000 (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
The bacterial species Pseudomonas fluorescens has only recently been discovered to have biocontrol characteristics. Controlling soil-borne pathogens has been a major problem throughout the years, but this new biocontrol agent might be the solution (Baehler et al. 2005). P. fluorescens are a siderophores, which causes this pathogen to have inhibitory effects on spore germination and mycelium formation (Abo-Zaid et al. 2020).
P. fluorescence has chloroform fractions which has significant activity against pathogenic bacteria and toxic fungi (Marrez et al. 2019). It is also a competitor for niche-based nutrients. This bacteria is, however, inconsistent in different environments so there us still a lot of research to be done on how to optimise the use of this biocontrol agent (Dutta et al. 2019).
Trichoderma spp. are usually used to control fungal pathogens like Fusarium wilts (Hewedy et al. 2019). This fungus as biocontrol agent can successfully colonise soil and survive in it for up to a year (Xian et al. 2019) and acts in vitro (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
The Trichoderma spp. used as biocontrol are known for its effectiveness since this fungal species colonizes and grows aggressively in soil (Hewedy et al. 2019). It also has other mechanisms to control plant pathogens such as hyperparasitism and competition. This fungal genus also triggers induced resistance in the host plant and can enhance plant growth (Xian et al. 2019). It also is a mycoparasitic species which can act against fungi, and it also has been characteristic to be used against airborne diseases especially when integrated with chemical control (Mérillon and Ramawat 2012).
By Amy Grundling
The photo is provided by Weebly, 2020
Increase in Fuel Prices
After two months of fuel price reductions due to the decrease in global demand, June is expected to burden South Africans even further during the uncertain times. On Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 93 and 95 octane petrol increased by R1,18/ℓ; 0,05% diesel by 22c/ℓ; 0,005% diesel by 21c/ℓ; and Illuminating paraffin by 40c/ℓ. According to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the prices of petrol will still be R2.63/ℓ lower than it was before the start of lockdown in March.
The fuel price is comprised out of four main elements namely, the General Fuel Levy (GFL), Road Accident Fund (RAF) Levy, Basis Fuel Price and retail margins. Before the lockdown, the combination of GFL and RAF levies was R5,84, which is approximately 50% of the fuel price. The new fuel prices that came into effect on 3 June, will only comprise out of a lower percentage levy, weighting 44%.
The main reason for the increase in fuel prices is that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other oil-producing countries agreed to reduce production by 10 million barrels per day. The reduction in production will decrease global oil supply with 10%. Fuel prices will remain volatile in the short-run but will stabilize in the long-run as global economies recover.
The Effect on Food Security
Despite diesel accounting, approximately 11% of the total grain production, the small increase in diesel prices will not affect food production drastically. Many of the grain producers are currently in harvest, therefore, they would have already bought fuel in bulk before the fuel price increase.
Even though the increase in diesel prices will not affect food production significantly, the increase will affect South Africa’s food security. Given that 70% of South Africa’s food being transported by road, the increase in fuel prices will have a negative effect on food inflation. It is estimated that 50% of South Africa’s population is food insecure. The majority of the food insecure population in the North West (36,6%), Northern Cape (32,3%), Mpumalanga (28,4%) and the Eastern Cape (25,4%).
Food insecurity has been amplified by the growing unemployment and poverty rates, caused by the economic instability triggered by the worldwide pandemic. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has reported that the respondents who receive no income, has increased from 5,2% before lockdown to 15,4% and is expected to increase even further.
In conclusion, to ensure food security the government and the public sector should stimulate economic growth and job creation. In efforts to decrease the negative impact of the economic instability, the government can stabilize the volatile fuel prices in the short-run. Fuel prices can be stabilized by decreasing the GFL and RAF levies.
Rural Development Part 2: How can South Africa use Agriculture, in terms of Land Reform, for Profitable Rural Development
By Adelene van Zyl
Photo taken by Amy Grundling
Agriculture in South Africa experienced a major shift in the late 1990s, after the ending of Apartheid, when the free market economy was introduced. Before the liberalization of the agricultural sector, government involvement played a key role in the marketing and supply of agricultural commodities. After the liberalization of the agricultural sector, it moved to a free market economy. Despite the significant decrease in the government’s involvement during the past two decades, the need for government intervention is still crucial. This can be seen in the support of small-scale farmers and land reform programs.
In 2019, Agriculture contributed about 2.14% to the GDP of the country and about 5.09% of total formal employment in South Africa. The New Growth Path (NGP) framework was created in 2011 to create 5 million jobs by 2020. Agriculture and its value chain were chosen as the sector with the most job opportunities. South Africa had about 10 million people employed in 2019, which is approximately 2.1 million more than in 2011. This means that only 2.1 million of the expected 5 million jobs were created, of which agriculture contributed to more than 100 000 of these jobs.
The expected job creation from the NGP was not achieved. The employment rate in South Africa declined by 1 percent from 2016 to 2019. Unemployment increased even further in the start of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown. The government is yet again dependent on the agricultural sector to create more job opportunities.
Land reform has played a major role in job creation throughout the past years by reallocating agricultural land back to previously disadvantaged black farmers. However, some land reform programs have become politically biased and caused even further unemployment and increased poverty rates. To prevent further unsuccessful land reform attempts, agricultural and rural development must be integrated with land reform. Agricultural land reform is extremely important and creates a large opportunity to lift rural citizens out of poverty.
Agricultural land in South Africa occupies about 80% of arable land, which is 96 374 000 ha out of 125 000 000 ha. Out of the 96 million ha, about 4 million ha are used for grain crops, 75 000 ha are used for deciduous crops, 74 900 ha are used for citrus crops, 1 245 ha are used for vegetable crops and about 20.5 million ha are used for livestock as grazing. To make the reallocation of land effective and profitable, one must consider the profits that are raised from the different sectors, as well as the growth opportunities in each sector.
An example of an industry with extremely high-profit margins compared to other agricultural industries, are perennial tree crops. These include nut trees, citrus trees and deciduous trees. They all have three major factors in common: the first is that these tree crops have high establishment costs, but thereafter the annual input costs are relatively low. The second factor is that these tree crops require lots of water to grow optimally, therefore, irrigation is extremely important. Lastly, the fruits and nuts yielded from these tree crops are mainly exported. Since these crops are mainly exported, the profit margins for these crops are high. The international demand for these crops is also increasing, therefore the market is not yet saturated.
The biggest hindrance to expand these sectors, is the lack of water. Therefore, the government should once again consider irrigation schemes, such as the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme, the Lower Olifants River Irrigation Scheme, and the Loskop Irrigation Scheme. (Read further on the success and sustainability of these irrigation schemes on: https://icid2015.sciencesconf.org/75961/document. If the government could consider investing in other irrigation schemes and reinvest in the current irrigation schemes, it would not only create more growth and jobs in agriculture, but also in the engineering and infrastructure industries. This could also be used as a water sustainable program for other African countries to follow.
To ensure the profitability of rural development, the government should shift their focus from the politically motivated land reform to supporting agricultural industries that will stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities. Through establishing successful and sustainable water schemes, it will not only benefit the agricultural sector but also the entire economy. By investing in these water schemes, rural communities will be uplifted by improved water and sanitation, infrastructure development and increased food security through improved yields. The next article will explain the government’s role in creating efficient, sustainable and profitable rural development programs which will support the socio-economic stability of South Africa.
By Adelene van Zyl
The photo is take by Adelene van Zyl. Setšong works with community elders to create a range of tea blends, using indigenous plant material. For more information please visit their website at https://setsong.co.za/.
The importance of rural development in South Africa has increased significantly due to the increasing need for job creation to support the populations living under the poverty line. Currently 80% of South Africa comprises of rural areas, providing housing for over 20 million citizens.
Rural development is defined by the World Bank (1975) as: “A strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people – the rural poor. It involves extending the benefits of development to the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in the rural areas.”
This definition can be broken down into two main factors considering the implementation of rural development. The first factor is to improve the economic life of a rural community members by implementing sustainable job creation, which will improve their disposable income. By increasing the disposable income of the community, each member is given the opportunity to become more food secure and to improve their living standards. The second factor, namely improving the community member’s social life, means that the member will gain dignity through increased opportunities created by education. By educating rural communities, members are equipped with skills that create opportunities for them to follow other career paths other than small scale farming.
One can also see from the definition that rural development does not guarantee economic growth. Instead of economic growth, the focus is rather on the improvement of the human condition through the eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequality and the implementation of long-term social development. According to the Rural Development Report (2016), it also consists of agricultural development, which is the process of improving the lives and economic wellbeing of farmers, the value chain and agricultural workers.
There have been several approaches to rural development in the past namely, community development, intensive agriculture, integrated rural development, livelihood approaches, participatory paradigm, and agricultural growth through smallholder farming. However, the success rate of these approaches has shown to be insignificant since agriculture is seen as a declining sector, causing a lack of funding and an urban bias approach.
South Africa cannot afford another ten years of unsuccessful rural development programmes. With the increasing demand for food due to the increasing global population, the agricultural sector provides opportunities for job creation. It is important that the government and key role players in the agricultural sector should rethink and redevelop new rural development strategies.
I would like to suggest that economic growth, in other words, profitability, must become a key factor in rural development. The reason for this suggestion is that rural development already implies a Pareto improvement, in other words, to improve the welfare of one individual without decreasing the welfare of another individual. If we consider this definition compared to the meaning of rural development, one can see the gap of resource provision. Even though the country is dependent on government involvement, we cannot assume that they are in the position to keep on providing funds for rural development. To ensure the success of rural development, rural communities should be educated and provided with skills so that they can become self-efficient.
During the next few weeks, I will explain why economic growth must be included in rural development. In the meantime, I would like to introduce the following mindset:
sustainable development can only succeed when each South African stop demanding what they need from the country but start giving the country what it needs.
By Lize Reinecke
Apples are produced in abundance worldwide and is also a very important economic crop. The fly in the applesauce is the disease caused by Venturia inaequalis (apple scab). This disease causes lesions on leaves and fruits which causes the fruit to crack and can even cause deformed fruit growth.
The following flow diagram summarizes the control measures that can be used in terms of the life cycle of the host plant:
Table 1 indicates different types of control strategies and the results that one can achieve:
The apple industry requires high quality apples to be delivered either to the local or international market. It is therefore important to apply preventative and control measures against this disease to ensure proper growth.
Bowers, 2011. Apple Scab. Available at https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W289-O.pdf [Accessed 2019/10/15].
Koetter, 2019. Apple scab of apples and crabapples. Available at https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/apple-scab#cultural-practices-1165362 [Accessed 2019/10/15].
Peter, 2017. Apple Disease – Apple Scab. Available at https://extension.psu.edu/apple-disease-apple-scab [Accessed 2019/10/15].
CAB, 2019. Apple Scab. Available at https://www.plantwise.org/knowledgebank/datasheet/56212 [Accessed 2019/10/15]
PNRC, 2019. Apple Scab. Available at https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/plant-disease/apple-scab/ [Accessed 2019/10/15]
By Amy Grundling
Photo by Annika van Zyl & Jaco Kruger
It was recognized, during the 2009 World Summit on Food Security, that food demand will increase with 34%-70% by 2050 (FAO, 2019). It is estimated that the population will increase to 9 billion people, causing an additional annual consumption of 200 million metric tons of meat and 1 billion metric tons of cereals for food and feed (Floros, 2010). To meet the increasing food needs, it is necessary for the agricultural sector to become more efficient and productive. Biotechnology provides the potential to support the increase of production and yield and to develop commodities that are richer in nutrients.
Since the first genetically modified (GM) organisms were introduced in the late 1980s, the debate arose whether gene technology is beneficial or detrimental to human health. However, the debate has failed to clarify an agreed direction of policy (Azadi, Hossein, 2010). The use of GMO’s has divided important stakeholders with conflicting opinions, while the public is left in the side-lines. Despite no scientific evidence published on the detrimental use of GMOs, activists in many countries have continued to fight against the use of GM crops. These groups state that safety, ethnical, religious and environmental concerns are more important than the benefits of increased productivity and improved nutritional value (Azadi, Hossein, 2010). Due to the uncertainty created by these groups, many developing countries have not planted any GM crops – because of the fear of biosafety (Azadi, Hossein, 2010). The new European Union regulations, requiring all GM products to be labelled, will further discourage the planting of GM crops in poor countries (Paarlberg, 2002).
The issue is the impact of international regulations on the food security in the developing countries. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, approximately 820 million people remain malnourished, including at least 250 million children (FAO, 2019). Nevertheless, biotechnology provides the potential to increase yields and nutritional value of crops, which is vital for resource-poor and small-scale-farmers. Biotechnology can be used to genetically modify plant and animal species. For example, to increase the nutritional value of cereal grains and rDNA biotechnology can be used to increase the protein quality. With the increasing challenges developing countries face due to climate change, more resources are needed to produce food. By using drought tolerant crops, such as maize, it enables small-scale to adapt to the changing environment (Floros, 2010). The increase in yield and the shorter growth period in GM crops also decrease the use of chemical fertilizers and pest management, therefore improving cost efficiency.
The uncertainties regarding GMO’s have affected policy development and the publics opinion of the use of GM crops significantly. People fear the things which they do not know, it is therefore important that scientific research must be conducted to prevent further uncertainties regarding GM crops and to share these findings with the public. By educating the public and policy makers on what biotechnology is, it will eliminate any myths which prevents the use of GM crops. Biotechnology is an important tool that needs to be incorporated in developing countries’ agricultural sectors. Through the benefits of biotechnology, food security can be improved, especially in developing countries. This will not only reduce famine but also malnutrition globally.
Azadi, H., 2010. Genetically modified and organic crops in developing countries: A review of options. Biotechnology Advances, I(28), pp. 160-168.
FAO, 2019. Food Insecurity is More than Just Hunger. [Online]
Available at: http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition
[Accessed 3 May 2020].
Floros et al., 2010. Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 9, 572-599.
Paarlberg, RL., 2002. The real threat to GM crops in poor countries: consumer and policy resistance to GM foods in rich countries. Food Policy, 27, pp247–50.
By Chikomborero Chiobvu
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty among businesses and small agricultural companies. Due to lockdowns and stay at home orders around the world, many companies have been hit hard and are trying to see if they will survive this period and post lockdown. However, one thing that remains constant is people need to eat.
More people practice social distancing and avoid leaving their homes, causing the meal-kit subscriptions to be extremely popular. Meal-kit subscriptions are services that allow people to choose recipes online and have all the ingredients sent to their doors (Olito, 2020).
As many countries face complete lockdowns, companies such as Hello Fresh, and South Africa´s Ucook, have seen a surge in orders over the course of the lockdown and stay at home orders. Ucook saw its demand increase by 25% since the beginning of March (Richard Holmes, 2020).
Fresh produce makes part of the ingredients that are placed in these meal kits, thus making this a potential industry that small produce farmers could consider post lockdown. Life might not get back to what it was, the ability to adapt to these changes is what will set businesses apart. A potential venture that small produce farmers could take is partnering with meal-kit companies as well as start their meal-kit businesses in an attempt to diversify their product portfolio and ensure stable cash flow.
Restaurants could also follow the meal-kit trend by providing their popular dishes in meal kit form. This allows their consumers to enjoy their favorite meals in the comfort of their own homes. This business expansion also allows for a flow in the value chain as farmers can continue providing to their customers in the restaurant industry.
Olito, F., 2020. My HelloFresh meal delivery kit is a surprise game-changer during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are 6 reasons why. [Online]
Available at: https://www.insider.com/hellofresh-subscription-during-coronavirus-2020-4
[Accessed 26 April 2020].
Richard Holmes, 2020. UCOOK is on fire. [Online]
Available at: https://www.businesslive.co.za/fm/life/food/2020-04-16-ucook-is-on-fire/
[Accessed 26 April 2020].
Original article can be found on: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-small-produce-farmers-could-adapt-pandemic-chikomborero-chiobvu/?trackingId=Db7wrNdUZSLp7XRPG%2BNzMg%3D%3D
If you have any interests or concerns, you can contact the writer via: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Adelene van Zyl
Source: Brian McKenna, 2020
The agricultural sector is sometimes forgotten in the South African economy since it only contributes approximately 3% to our GDP. However, in this time, the importance of agriculture is being amplified. Food shortages keep on increasing as citizens face retrenchment due to Covid-19 regulations. South Africans are dependent, now more than ever, on the agricultural sector to keep on providing food for a hungry nation.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the government currently tries to balance the Covid-19 spread and the food supply chain. Movement of food is still dangerous since it is labour intensive, however, human interaction must be limited to prevent the spread of the disease. Zweli also said that SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) is overburdened to provide food parcels in poor areas.
The agricultural sector is forced to keep on providing services, feed, food and commodities, while keeping their labour force clean and safe. Reidy (2020) stated that the demand for flour increased rapidly as consumers started stockpiling flour and other grain-based foods. Millers said that they are putting in all efforts to produce adequate flour, but they are concerned about border closures and lockdown regulations preventing them to transport flour to the necessary locations.
The biggest concern for the agricultural sector is currently logistics. This entails the labour force, human interactions, hygiene and movement of products through borders. Companies were forced to increase hygiene standards and precautionary measures, as well as to decrease the number of employees to limit human interaction. Economist Scott Irwin stated his concern for the virus contaminating food plants. Not only will this be difficult to measure, but it will spread the virus much faster than what the country can handle. Professor Gary Schnitkey said that this is only a matter of time until a food plant gets infected and that our concern should be on how it will be handled when it happens.
The grain and oilseeds trade body COCERAL, the vegetable oil and protein meal association FEDIOL and the European Compound Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) issued a joint statement on 17 March 2020 regarding EU restrictions on agricultural commodities. They said that the risk for food shortages will increase if current restrictions persist, which might prevent the population to access regular food supplies. They also stated that they are taking all actions required to avoid disruptions in the food supply chains and to ensure that all parties will receive the raw agricultural products and ingredients they need. South Africa also has special regulations for the transport of agricultural products. You can read through these regulations and updates on GrainSA’s website: https://www.grainsa.co.za/pages/news--events/events/covid-19-updates.
South Africans can be assured that our agricultural sector will be able to produce enough food, however, necessary actions need to take place to improve the efficiency of the transportation of agricultural products. Any food commodity that can be supplied is extremely important now, however, the most important commodity during this time is flour. Milling operations has to keep on receiving wheat from farmers and deliver flour to bakeries for the production of bread, pasta and other grain-based products.
Reidy, S., Lyddon, C. & McKee, D., 2020. COVID-19 impacts agriculture from farm to fork. [Online]
Available at: https://www.world-grain.com/articles/13479-covid-19-impacts-agriculture-from-farm-to-fork
[Accessed 20 04 2020].
By Adelene van Zyl
Photo by Oliver Eggers, Winterton
Food insecurity is becoming a bigger concern as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the world. In South Africa, the agricultural sector normally does not contribute a large percentage to the GPD. However, the agricultural sector is currently playing an important role in order to sustain South Africa’s food security during the national lockdown period. The Government has already provided various support measures to the country and its citizens. On 6 April 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform also acted swiftly in providing support for local farmers. Minister Thoko Didiza announced relief strategies for farmers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The department has made R 1.2 billion available for farmers, focusing mainly on struggling small-scale farmers. This fund is allocated into four main channels. The first channel is the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy Programme. The second channel focus on the poultry industry, which aims its resources on day old chicks, point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust. The third channel focuses on livestock feed and medication. The last channel focus on vegetable production, aiming the resources on seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction. The Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy Programme has been allocated R 400 million, while the rest of the fund is allocated to the other three channels.
Farmers can apply for support from this fund and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. There are, however, a few criteria that must be met for a farmer to receive financial support. The first criterium is that the farmer must be a South African citizen and must have been farming actively for a minimum of twelve months and must also currently be in the production season. The second requirement is that the farmer must be registered as a farmer or on a commodity or provincial database. Other requirements are that the farmer must be a small-scale farmer must have an annual turnover between R50 000 and R1 million. This process of allocating funds towards farmers will prioritize women, youth and people with disabilities.
The department also mentioned exclusions from applying for this fund, such as debt payments, mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs. Farmers who are preparing for the summer production of 2020 will also not be supported, since the focus is on relieving current pressure due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Farmers who are already supported through other programmes of government will also not be supported by this fund.
Struggling farmers are encouraged to apply for this fund from before 22 April 2020 since no late entries will be accepted. Farmers can find the application forms on www.dalrrd.gov.za and submit the applications electronically to email@example.com or submitted to the offices as stated on the application.
Photo of Minister Thoko Didiza (Phakathi, 2020)
Minister Thoko Didiza encouraged the farmers with this statement: “I urge all employers within the sector to fully comply with all the acceptable prescripts. Together, as stakeholders within the sector we have a mandate to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for our country.”
Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, 2020. Minister Thoko Didiza announces interventions to assist agricultural sector during Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-thoko-didiza-announces-interventions-assist-agricultural-sector-during-coronavirus [Accessed 10 April 2020].
Phakathi, B., 2020. Distressed farmers to get access to R1.2bn government grant. [Online]
Available at: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2020-04-06-distressed-farmers-to-get-access-to-r12bn-government-grant/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].