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All agricultural sectors will be allowed to operate - however, under strict conditions - under Level 4 of the nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
Addressing a media briefing on Wednesday in Pretoria, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, said agriculture has been an essential service and has been operating on Level 5, but not all of it has been operating.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of lockdown restrictions from the beginning of May.
“We are allowing all of the sectors of agriculture to operate under strict conditions. We are going to open for exports of all agriculture, not only the wine makers but also Amarula, wool and other synthetic products for agriculture,” the Minister said.
Bee keepers will get permits that will allow them to operate at night as this is the time they harvest honey.
“We are also going to make sure the fishery sector is open for fishing. During the month of June we have a sardine run in parts of our country, proper directions will be given by the Minister of Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries on how that will be done,” she said.
The Minister has emphasized the importance for the sector to ensure proper distancing in the workplace and the provision of protective clothing (PPE) for workers and farmers.
In terms of the livestock industry, auctions will take place but under very strict conditions.
“We will limit the numbers to 50 but proper distancing must be observed so that we do not allow those centres of auctions to become epicentres for spreading the virus,” the Minister said.
Some of the supporting industries that enable the agriculture sector to function such as those that relate to mechanization, tractors, comlines and other implements that are required for production, will be allowed to operate.
“We have also ensured that areas such as shops that sell agricultural chemicals, seeds as well as fertilizers should also be open so that farmers can be able to get seeds and manures and other related input for them to operate. Forestry will be permitted as well as the inspection, certification and quality control done for food safety is allowed,” the Minister said.
Didiza noted that the sector is one of those that are important and critical for the economy and livelihoods. – SAnews.gov.za