There will be enough food supply during lockdown - Thoko Didiza
The supply of food will not be interrupted during the 21-day national lockdown. The entire food value chain from farming, manufacturing, transporting and retail of food products will go uninterrupted.
This is according to minister of agriculture Thoko Didiza who was speaking hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that there would be a national lockdown for 21-days as the country is trying to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The lockdown, which starts midnight Thursday, among others would limit people’s movement and workers who are deemed to not be essential would be forced to stay at home.
“We are self-sufficient at the moment and therefore there is no need to embark on panic buying. The country has sufficient food supply. Panic buying will only cause disruption and inconvenience in the food system,” Didiza said.
The lockdown was introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19 which has affected at least 554 people in the country to date. Didiza said that agriculture had been deemed an essential service which meant the sector would continue operating and there would not be any shortage of food.
“Exports and imports of critical agricultural commodities and the logistical measures will continue during this lockdown period to ensure that there is global and national food security,” Didiza said.
“This is not only limited to retailers but the entire food value chain from farming, agro processing and food manufacturing, logistic related services, the wholesale and retail sector and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro food system.”
She said they would also continue monitoring food prices to ensure that retailers and manufacturers do not take advantage of people during this time.
“I will be making regular updates on crop estimates to inform the country of our critical commodity supply to ensure that we do not have inflated prices in the sector, I think those announcements will be critical,” she said.
“Food price monitoring will also be conducted on critical food basket commodities and report will be given to the nation on a regular basis.”
The department of agriculture has also set aside at least R1.2bn to assist the sector and ensure that there is sustainable food production during and post the coronavirus outbreak.
These funds would be directed mostly at assisting those who are producing vegetables and protein foods, Didiza said.