Tridge interviewed Tafadzwa Mutanha, an Economist and Agriculture Analyst from South Africa, to gain insight into the effects of the national lockdown on the current state of agriculture.
According to the Level 4 lockdown regulations in South Africa, gatherings at auctions are not permitted. This has confused livestock farmers, as agriculture has been deemed an essential service, and the government has allowed gatherings for essential services. The question amongst the agriculture sector is whether or not livestock auctions will be exempted from the national ban on auctions. Livestock auctions form an integral part of the livestock industry, and online auctions are not always practical or possible.
Even if livestock auctions are permitted, Mutanha also believes that there will be a limitation on the number of people attending each auction as the government seeks to limit the size of social gatherings.
“In terms of the livestock auctions, the impact of the lockdown will be significant. Each auction will require permission and permits. According to the presidential address, gatherings are banned totally, and in essential cases where gatherings will be allowed, the numbers will be limited. In addition, travel to the auction sites may be restricted for those who fail to get permits. Even permit holders may also face restrictions as each auction will limit the number of people that will be able to attend,” explains Mutanha.
The current lockdown will heavily impact the food industry as restaurants, and food outlets will not be open to the public. This may cause food businesses to be on the brink of closing, as the government has made no financial relief available during the 14 days of the lockdown.
According to Mutanha, the lockdown may also lead to logistical problems for farmers.
“Movement from Point A to Point B will be limited. Farmers and farmworkers will need permits to make interprovincial movements. So that in itself is a setback. Most farmers do not have the know-how on how to access permits. Due to the lockdown, ports will no longer be operating at 100% capacity. They will probably be working at 40% capacity, and there will be delays in testing and social distancing. Some of the new restrictions on products and testing are time-consuming and may lead to delays and exporters not being able to meet deadlines,” concluded Mutanha.