The agriculture and food-supply sector remains a vital cog during this period. In terms of the Amended Regulation No. 398 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002(Act No. 57 of 2002), the sector is responsible for food security and has been declared as essential.
Essential services include the harvesting and storage of agricultural commodities. The regulation re-emphasises that 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, have to be functional, to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Ms Thoko Didiza, reiterates that there is no need for panic buying of food. This type of buying only serves to create distortions and artificial scarcities within the food-supply sector.
The intervention measures that the government and the agricultural food value chain have put in place are:
1. Monitoring the availability and stability of food supply – the monitoring is done via an end-to-end agricultural value-chain tracker, which has a 24 to 48-hour reporting cycle. The department will release regular status updates concerning these monitoring activities. In case there are extreme cases where the security of supply of staple commodities is threatened, the department will recommend to the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition to impose appropriate export restrictions.
2. Ensuring that critical agricultural production activities such as harvesting continue uninterrupted – this is done under strict prescripts as provided for in the Amended Regulation No. 398 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) and the Department of Health’s COVID-19 hygiene protocol. The safety of farmers and farm workers, on and off-work, is very important.
For all queries relating to COVID-19 matters within the sector, kindly contact the department on email:COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org phone the toll-free number: 086 024 6640.
Issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
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